On April 17, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts hosted a presentation during which the community got a new look at updated architectural renderings for the Conte School project. While there are differences of opinion about the project, there is shared passion about the students of North Adams. We were pleased to provide a venue for this meeting and to discuss the Conte School renovation against the backdrop of Murdock Hall.
In 2006, we celebrated the rebirth of Murdock, the college's original academic building. Originally constructed in 1897, Murdock underwent a transformation that refurbished, redesigned and reimagined the building as a 21st century center for teaching and learning. As a result of its renovation, Murdock Hall is a resource that contributes to the realization of MCLA's educational mission as the commonwealth's public liberal arts college and serves as a gathering place and a place for the sharing of ideas among members of the college and local communities.
The city of North Adams has the opportunity, and access to significant state resources, to polish another hidden gem in our community, the Conte School. In recent years, we have seen dramatic evidence of the ways historic buildings can enjoy new leases on life, and enliven our community in the process. In addition to Murdock Hall, consider the renovation of the North Adams Public Library, and the transformation of the buildings that make up Mass MoCA. Spaces that could have been abandoned have instead become vital community assets, work that was accomplished with a combination of public investment and community spirit.
As we saw during the architect's presentation on April 17, the plans for Conte engage our imagination with the power of possibility. Through this renovation, we can do something magnificent for the youth of North Adams and deliver a learning environment for educators and students in our community that is the equal to their great talent, high aspirations and tremendous potential. When the renovated Conte opens, it will be part of a learning corridor in our community that extends from Mass MoCA and Kidspace to the school and library to MCLA and the new Center for Science and Innovation, and on to Drury and McCann. At MCLA, our new science building was designed as a place for collaboration with local students and educators, and the new school will help to strengthen and deepen the educational connections between MCLA and the local schools to the benefit of all. Innovation and education are cornerstones of our city's history, and they must be at the foundation of our vision for the youth of North Adams. Learning and teaching happen best when enthusiastic, prepared students and dedicated, engaged educators come together in common purpose. That purpose is served and strengthened in an environment that is equal to their energy and commitment. The school building is the place where ideas are introduced, minds are opened and the future is created.
We owe it to the children of our community who will inherit that future to support excellence in all of our schools. The Conte project is ready to go, providing an immediate opportunity to invest in our children's hard work, curiosity, dreams and aspirations.
Mary K. Grant, Ph.D., is President of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.