2013-08-29 / Opinion

Pell School Reflects Advocacy for Education

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, the citizens of Newport will celebrate the opening of the Claiborne Pell Elementary School, a new elementary school facility that includes a primary wing, pre-Kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2, and an upper school of grades 2, 3 and 4. This new facility will provide our youngest students an impressive 21st century, high performance, energy efficient educational environment.

We will no longer need to worry about poor air quality, rodent visits, or leaking roofs. Food will be served in a clean, bright and inviting cafeteria. Physical education classes will no longer be held on stage, but in the gymnasium; music and art classes will have rooms outfitted for their disciplines. The building has an updated security system to ensure the safety of our students and staff, and technology that is current and provides access to federal, state, and local data systems and to existing and emerging pedagogy.

The citizens of this community made this possible by supporting a $30 million bond issue in 2010. A cadre of community members formed the “Let’s Build Pell” committee and reached out to provide information to voters on the necessity of construction. Now, three years later, the goal of bringing all elementary students to one location, thereby unifying and equitably delivering instruction and maximizing resources is realized. The building team of architects, contractor, and owner’s representative, has attained maximum reimbursement for NE-CHPS, (Northeastern Collaborative for High Performance Schools) bringing total reimbursement for Newport to 44%.

The naming of the school honors the work of our Senator Claiborne Pell, who was best known for devising legislation that created the program that has dispensed grants to tens of millions of poor and middle class college students. Senator Pell always advocated for public education funding. He viewed education as not only a ladder of opportunity, but also an investment in our future and personal affirmation of the individual. We are the first in the nation to honor his advocacy for education by naming a school in his memory.

Newporters, let’s celebrate the opening of our new school! It’s an accomplishment that we can rightfully claim ownership for.

“We pay a price when we deprive children of the exposure to the values, principles, and education they need to make them good citizens.” –Sandra Day O'Connor.

Jo Eva Gaines, Vice Chair

Newport School Committee Chair, Pell Building Committee

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