DERRY | Pinkerton Academy's new building will be simple in design, but worth its weight in gold where educational success is concerned.

That's the message Pinkerton Academy trustees and officials presented to representatives of the school's three sending towns | Derry, Chester and Hampstead | at a meeting Nov. 1.

Plans for Pinkerton's building project were presented to those in attendance, along with construction details given by Paul Marinace of Frank Marinace Associates, project architect.

The academy hopes to break ground in March 2008 and begin using the space in September 2009.

The building, with a planned 44 classrooms included in the 131,000 square feet, would replace Pinkerton's two portable classrooms, each nearly 40 years old and past their prime on the approximately 3,400-student campus. A building committee, made up of representatives of the academy and sending school districts, worked on the project.

Headmaster Mary Anderson told sending school officials that the new building would house freshmen for four core classes each day | math, science, English and social studies | and would help transition the first-year high-schoolers into the campus experience in a smooth, and successful way, while offering much-needed classroom space.

"This is long overdue," Anderson said. "We just don't have enough space."

The new building would also house a cafeteria, conference rooms, technology space, administrator and staffing offices, while allowing students to still be part of the campus atmosphere for art, music, sports and other parts of their schedule.

"They will still travel around campus, but they will have a home base," said Chris Harper, dean of academic affairs, "but there will be four core classes and teachers that know them well."

Specialty vocational programs like welding, electrical and a new culinary arts program could also find a home in the new building. The new space will be energy and cost effective, with natural light and other efficiencies.

The two-part project includes a new sports field that would include artificial turf, lighting and seating for about 3,000 fans. The cost for the new building/field project is estimated at $30-$31 million.

Anderson stressed more details and final plans are coming. There could be donations and other funding to help offset costs, she said.

Details of the new building plan will come before sending town residents in the months to come so everyone is kept informed of project details, Anderson added.

"We want to keep the lines of communication open with our districts," she said, "and keep them abreast of what's going on."

Anderson said there is never a good time to undergo major construction, but with Pinkerton Academy paying off its fieldhouse bond, and interest rates low, the timing is right. The building will be functional, energy-efficient, and a wonderful space and springboard for the academy's freshmen, she said.

"Our goal is to help kids succeed; that's why we're here," Anderson said. "That's what it's all about; giving them everything possible they need to succeed."

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