State and town officials, school administrators, trustees and stakeholders joined together to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new $133.7 million Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School on the campus of Wednesday afternoon.
Called a "powerful champion" for the project since its inception, which dates back to the mid-1990s, Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry (D-Peabody) said waking up this morning he was "very, very happy."
Berry was specially recognized for his contributions with a plaque presented by freshmen at North Shore Tech and Essex Aggie.
"I am tremendously grateful that with the guidance of the Mass. School Building Authority, the Patrick-Murray Administration saw a way to a better future for students on the North Shore,” Berry said. “Today is a momentous occasion that culminates 13 years of collaboration, creativity and hard work. In the end the North Shore will have the best trained leaders for the future of our economy. I could not be more proud.”
The 340,000-square-foot building will be constructed on the fields opposite the existing main campus of Essex Aggie and will open its doors to students in the fall of 2014.
The new school will serve 1,440 students and will include four career academies, containing 360 students each: Animal and Plant Science, Construction Technology, Life and Natural Sciences, and a Technology and Services Academy.
The mega-vocational school will be the only high school in the state to offer all of the programs in one facility that are currently offered between Essex Aggie, North Shore Tech and Peabody High's vocational school.
In December, architects and Danvers town officials met with residents to .
Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis, who quoted Jerry Garcia by noting "what a long and strange journey it's been," said the ceremony was about a multitude of bridges. "Bridges between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the cities and towns, between North Shore Tech, Essex Agricultural and Peabody Vocational High School, between the host towns of Danvers and Middleton, and ultimately between the administrators, teachers and students who will enter here in the fall of 2014."
Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said it's the students who attend technical and vocational schools throughout Massachusetts that have set the bar as active, engaged learners.
"We want young people who are motivated and excited to come to school," Murray said in his remarks. "We want them to understand that what they're learning in the classroom has relevancy and is tangible in terms of how they're going to live their lives. Our vocational technical schools are informing how we need to be teaching in all of our schools in the future, because of those real world applications."