Ground was finally broken at Greenport Schools Tuesday to kickstart the construction of a new auxiliary gym, with Board of Education members, school faculty and over 50 students in attendance.
Superintendent Marlon Small, school board president Kimberly Swann, Greenport Mayor George Hubbard Jr. and Greenport Teachers’ Association president Rebecca Lillis each delivered a speech during the ceremony. Three students — student council member Emma Wachtel, a junior, and fifth-graders Becky Farfan and Josian Contreras — also spoke.
“They say that schools are more than just a building of brick and mortar,” Mr. Small said. “Schools are about relationships between the people who reside in that building — between our teachers and our students, between our faculty and our administrators and between our school and the community.”
The $18 million project, approved in December 2019, also includes plans for a new elementary library and a home and careers classroom. Rooms inside the existing school building will be renovated to accommodate for these new spaces.
“This is the beginning of flipping our classrooms into modern-day, active learning spaces where all of our children will be comfortable and safe,” said Ms. Lillis.
As the parent of a Greenport preschool student, Ms. Lillis feels this renovation project is a “step in the right direction for our students here.”
Students expressed excitement about the new gymnasium and classroom spaces in their speeches, thanking the Board of Education and community members for their work in pushing this project forward.
“We are very excited for a new gym that we can play in,” Josian said. “It will give us more space and we will not have to worry about sharing the gym with other kids.” He also shared that he’s looking forward to the new sports and activities that will be possible in the new gym, and the future trophies that can be put on display.
The high school a capella group and band both performed, and Emma Wachtel ceremoniously broke ground at the construction site.
“Building it is easy,” Mr. Hubbard said in his address. “Getting it approved, getting the money, getting everything else put in order … that’s the tough part.”
The Greenport School District’s $21.6 million. budget for the 2022-23 school year was passed last week, carrying a 5.75% increase. The budget proposal indicated that renovations had already already made to the school’s masonry, and girls’ and boys’ locker rooms, and that new security and public address systems had been installed.
“It’s an investment in our students’ futures,” Mr. Small said. “We want to make sure that we are providing a safe, comfortable learning environment for our kids, and we believe that this represents that investment.”