Shrewsbury dedicates new Beal school

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By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter

Peter H. Reynolds speaks during the dedication. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – A large orange dot in the entrance of Maj. Howard W. Beal Elementary School reads “Reach for your own words. Tell the world who you are and how you will make it better.”

That’s all part of a mural done by author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds.

Reynolds painted a mural that stretches throughout the lobby. Funding for the mural, in turn, was donated by Shrewsbury’s Robert “Chief Joseph” Terkanian. 

Reynolds was part of a dedication of the new school on Sept. 24. During that event, he gave Beal students copies of his book, “The Word Collector,” which inspired the mural. 

“What an honor it is for me to walk into this brand new school and to be a part of this school,” Reynolds said. “I got to illustrate a school. How cool is that?”

Students walk past Peter H. Reynolds’ mural on the first day of school. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Reynolds worked with the Beal students, who brainstormed words for him to incorporate in the mural.

“When you walk down the halls, I want you to be inspired by the words, by the color and by the creativity,” Reynolds said. 

‘Thank you, everyone, for making this all possible’

Kindergarteners, first graders and second graders attended this dedication virtually. 

Superintendent Joseph Sawyer addresses the audience. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

“This is a historic day for the town of Shrewsbury,” Superintendent Joseph Sawyer said. “It’s remarkable how this new Beal school compares to the original Maj. Howard W. Beal Memorial High School, which served our community well in different ways for almost 100 years.” 

The difference between the two schools represents the differences in public education, Sawyer said. 

While construction of the new school began in June 2019, speakers reflected on the journey to opening the new school. 

“Thank you, everyone, for making this all possible,” Sawyer said.

Maj. Beal remembered for contributions to community

Speaking during the dedication, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito called Sept. 24 a “very special day.” She said she hoped that the students would find a way to remember the day. 

“Any day here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts when we can celebrate education and officially open a new school, it’s a great day,” Polito said. 

Polito and several of the other speakers recognized the school’s namesake, Major Howard W. Beal. 

Polito called Beal a “hero.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito speaks during the dedication. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

According to the dedication’s program, Beal was a physician in the area. He lived on the same Shrewsbury street where the new school is located. 

At the start of World War I, Beal volunteered to go on a Red Cross ship and served in an England hospital before the United States entered the war. 

He was killed by a bomb in 1918 while serving with the Army Medical Corps. 

“He served and sacrificed for our country to allow us to have the opportunity to access the quality of life and what we celebrate today, the access to education and opportunity,” Polito said.