By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
SHREWSBURY – Applause and cheers filled the entrances of the new Maj. Howard W. Beal Elementary School as school buses made their long-awaited arrival.
Passersby have spent more than two years watching as crews built and then put the final touches on the school, which is located at 214 Lake St.
On Sept. 1, the school finally opened.
“We’re so excited,” said Beal Principal Chris Girardi. “We have 180 days of really exciting school, and we’re kicking it off today.”
Construction of the new school began in June 2019 after Shrewsbury voters approved a debt exclusion to replace the old Beal building.
On Sept. 1, teachers, staff and even Superintendent Joseph Sawyer helped lead the students to their new classrooms.
“They’re starting to learn, which is the most important thing about building this beautiful new school is really giving our students a great place to learn,” said Girardi.
As Sawyer walked through the new school, he pointed out the facility’s features. Some elements mirrored the old Beal, like a butterfly garden in the middle of a courtyard and a replica of the mural on the second floor.
The mural was done by author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds in 2005, who had also done work at the Floral Street School.
“Our architects, Lamoureux Pagano Associates, were able to make a very high-quality digital reproduction that they were then able to install here in the new Beal School, which also inspired some of the color palette that they used in designing the different spaces in the school,” Sawyer said. “We’re very fortunate. It’s a wonderful job by the architect to be able to do that.”
Reynolds has other work displayed throughout the new school, in places like the entrance and library.
Sawyer popped into the classrooms and asked the kids what they liked about the new school. “The two playgrounds,” one said.
“The gym,” said another.
“This looks like a place where we can be heroes,” one student told Sawyer.