Two New Schools – Two New Buildings


Holyoke is the home of many people, and it is a growing community. Two new schools will be built and will serve many kids’ needs. The first school will be on a vacant parcel between Cabot St. and Sergeant St., right across from the current H.B. Lawrence School, which may close due to the opening of this new school. The second school will be located where Peck School currently stands after the the demolition of that building. Both of these schools will serve up to about 550 students. These schools will serve Holyoke’s middle school population, students in grades 6-8.

This plan will support more team teaching, hands-on project learning, STEM, arts, and access to technology. The new school that will be located at the Peck location is designed to have a very active first floor that is especially welcoming to the community. 60% of the money that will go to the school will come from the state and the other 40% will come from the city, making a debt exclusion. This means the city will ask to borrow 40 million dollars and will pay it back over a 30 year time frame. This will be open to the voters in April of 2019 to see if they want to pay for this additional tax.

The reason behind the project is to put the 6-8 kids in a better learning environment related to their age. Instead of just having them learning in an elementary environment. This is better for the students because they will be able to mature in their grade level and will be more ready for the high school experience. They will be able to learn how to act by stricter expectations and have more age appropriate consequences. Also, when coming into the high school campuses, they will have many friends already made instead of coming into an environment of mostly strangers.

“High dropout rates have been  partially attributed to the failure of the middle school programs in Holyoke. While the turnaround plan doesn’t count on these schools happening, it is likely that better middle schools will have impact on helping the District as a whole improve its academic success,” says Dorrie Brooks, one of the leads on this project.

Many people do not like charter schools and what they do to our community, and Dr. Zrike, the superintendent of schools, addressed that right away. “I am a proponent of good schools,” said Zrike. He is not biased towards a public or a charter school.

This new middle school building project will help our students and, in turn, our community. The new learning spaces will help our students stay focused and on track for greater future success.