Mount Greylock School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Greene talks about the process that led to Friday's groundbreaking.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — It was all smiles and laughter at Friday's ceremonial groundbreaking for the renovation and addition at Mount Greylock Regional School.
But it was worth remembering the sometimes bumpy road that brought the district to what School Building Committee Chairman Mark Schiek characterized as, "one big milestone on the project path we're on together."
School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Greene told the crowd gathered for Friday's ceremony that there were many people to thank for helping Mount Greylock reach that milestone — including folks who would have chosen a different project path or no path at all.
"I'm grateful to our elected officials in both towns for their willingness to listen, for their willingness to ask the hard questions and to challenge us to provide clarity to the voters," Greene said.
Voters in both the regional school district's member towns approved the $64 million building project earlier this year.
"I'm grateful to voters for making informed decisions, whichever position they took," Greene said.
On Friday, with renovation work on the existing building well under way and foundation work on the new academic wing planned to begin shortly, officials from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, and state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, joined town and school officials for the groundbreaking.
One of those school officials was Mount Greylock Superintendent Douglas Dias, who told the crowd that after his past experiences with school building projects in other districts, he swore never to work in one that was embarking on a project.
"But that was before MSBA and before I saw the commitment of the groups we've seen here," said Dias, who is starting his second year at Mount Greylock. "The strength of the communities and collaboration with the towns and partners like Williams College have helped us provide … a state-of-the-art facility worthy of our children's education."
Downing echoed that sentiment.
"You can see the values of a community from where they invest their money," the senator said. "I know there is more that needs to be done. … But today we're here to celebrate us coming together to take one of many critical steps.
"When a kid sets foot in this building, when a parent sets foot in this building, when a teacher sets foot in this building, they will know their work is valued."
Downing and Cariddi have been committed advocates of the Mount Greylock project at the state level. And the MSBA is contributing about $32 million toward the project.
On Friday, MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy thanked the legislators for their efforts and recognized two of the driving forces for the project at the local level: Greene and Paula Consolini, who co-chairs the School Building Committee.
"In two weeks, it will be four years ago that I met Carrie and Paula," McCarthy said. "They came to a meeting in Boston. They weren't on the agenda. They just knew we were meeting and hopefully wanted to have a chance to talk to us.
"And so, they started explaining that they had a project they wanted to build. After they got a couple of sentences in, I said, 'Look, the best thing would be for me to come out and see the project.' So, four years ago in November — Gailanne [Cariddi] joined me in that tour — we were out touring the facility. [Now-retired Superintendent] Rose Ellis surprised me with a room full of people at the end of the tour that I wasn't expecting, which was all good."
And from that initial MSBA board meeting at which Greene and Consolini took the initiative, eventually came an invitation from the authority for Mount Greylock to enter its process.
"I want to thank Carrie and Paula for doing what they did," McCarthy said. "It spoke to me in my heart — the passion they had for this project."
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