By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – Before leaving for summer break, students waved flags and signs with goodbye messages on their final day in the 45-year-old JFK Middle School. They marched collectively across the parking lot for a sneak peek at the new Quinn Middle School, which cost $43.3 million to build. Principal Brian Daniels will always remember the students” reaction upon reaching their destination.
“They were wide-eyed when they came into the lobby of the new building,” he recalled. “I remember a student saying, “This looks like a high school!””
Also carried from the old building that day was a ceremonial plaque listing the JFK School Building Committee members including David J. Quinn, who served as the school's first principal. It was decided to name the new school in honor of Quinn shortly after he died in December 2011 at age 89. Daniels said the plaque will be placed in the lobby of the new school building, which opened Sept. 3.
“Continuity is important,” Daniels noted. “We'se carrying the town's history and passing it on to the next generation. The plaque helps to explain the dedication of the building to Mr. Quinn.”
That sense of community was readily visible to visitors of JFK School. Walls were adorned with colorful murals depicting generations of Hudson scenes, which were created while Michael Correa taught art there.
“We had all the murals professionally photographed, so it's not lost,” Daniels said. “I'sl find ways to display them in the lobby and on our message board.”
Among the problems with the old building, which was demolished during the summer, was a leaky roof, lack of space, and an inability to support current technology.
JFK School had what Daniels describes as “one and a half science labs,” adding, “It was very hard to claim that science is important when we were boiling water in microwaves.”
Quinn School is equipped with nine science laboratories. Also, the administration can now convincingly demonstrate the importance of a school library.
“At JFK, we had a very small space where we stored some books, but we never had a certified librarian in my entire tenure there,” said Daniels, who is now beginning his fifth year as the middle school principal. “At Quinn, the library is the entire width of the center section of the school. There are 6,000 new volumes, along with the volumes that we brought over with us, and there's interactive technology. The new library is spectacular and it's staffed by a certified librarian, Rolf Wasserman.”
The district's middle school formerly included only sixth- and seventh-graders. Now, fifth-graders are attending Quinn School, which allowed space in the elementary schools for the district's first full-day kindergarten classes.
“We'se measurably larger now,” Daniels said of the middle school. “We have approximately 50 percent increase in students and faculty.”
Formerly a teacher at Hudson High School, Daniels sees advantages to adding the fifth grade to the middle school.
“When it was grades six and seven, it was a pretty short-term relationship,” he said. “You's get to know a student and their needs, you's start working with them, and then they'se gone. Now, we'sl have a much better opportunity to get to know the needs of our individual students and then have two more years to help them get ready to be independent learners at Hudson High School.”
The staff returned from summer break the week before school opened to prepare. Daniels conducted one of the tours with the teachers so that they could adjust to the new building.
“When the teachers came into the lobby,” Daniels said, “they were almost as wide-eyed as last year's sixth-graders.”