Students, staff settle into Westborough’s new Fales School

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Students, staff settle into Westborough’s new Fales School
Kindergarten teacher Iris Torres leads a lesson in the new Fales school in Westborough. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – Community members have eagerly kept an eye on the Annie E. Fales Elementary School over the past two years, watching as a new school was constructed a stone’s throw away from the former school.

Now, the new building is open and crews are entering “phase two” of a multi-step process that will involve demolishing the old Fales structure.

“Students and staff couldn’t be happier,” Principal Maryann Stannard recently told the Community Advocate. “We’re all just feeling very grateful for this beautiful new school.”

Construction on the new school began in March of last year. All of the school’s students eventually signed a beam, which was added to the building during that construction process. Students then had their first official day of classes in the new school on Nov. 15.

“The kids have been fascinated with it,” Stannard said.

Principal celebrates staff 

It was noisy at some points in this process, such as when crews drilled geothermal wells associated with the new school building. Stannard said, however, that, for the most part, both the old school and its abutting construction site coexisted well. 

“I think my staff did an incredible, incredible job to pack and move and set up in a very short span of time,” she said of the mid-year transition to the new building last month. “It was amazing. They were all in.”

“I couldn’t be more grateful to them for making that happen for our students,” she added.

The Westborough community previously had a chance to say goodbye to the old school back in October.

Students, staff settle into Westborough’s new Fales School
Students in Patricia Gallo’s second grade class pose for a group photo. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Fales is now open to students in kindergarten through third grade with an enrollment of just over 350 students, according to Stannard

The school is divided into two wings, with one housing kindergarten and first-grade classrooms and the other housing second- and third-grade classrooms. Classrooms for specials — such as art, and music — are in the center of the building alongside the school library.

While staff and students loved the original Fales, Stannard described it as “more compressed.”

For example, art and music programs shared a classroom. Now, art and music programs have their own rooms. 

There are new decorations as well.

Themes of nature run throughout the new school, with leaves decorating the floor. 

Fales’ mascot is Annie the Hedgehog. While the original Fales mural that was funded by the Westborough Cultural Council will be moving over, additional grade level murals will also feature Annie.

Visitors may see Annie hiking through the woods, snorkeling in a pond or parachuting into a field. 

“It’s got an elegance to it as a building, but it is also very much an elementary school vibe,” Stannard said.

Building implements solar panels, geothermal wells

Any visitors entering the school are able to view solar panels on the roof of Fales.

“It is designed to be a net zero building,” Stannard said.

In addition to the solar panels, there are those geothermal wells. Together, the solar panels and the wells help handle the electrical, heating and cooling needs of the school. 

Project continues

Now that the project is officially in phase two, a demolition company will soon dismantle the old Fales building.

Stannard said once the building comes down, its footprint will be repurposed for additional parking and a bus loop. That space will also house a hardtop playground space, fields and a pavilion. 

“My hope is, at the start of next school year, we are having an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at some point either in August or September where we’re celebrating the final completion of the project,” Stannard said.

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