WINDHAM — The community’s new charter school building is complete, having been constructed with a lot of support from staff, families and the state.
Parents, students, faculty and trustees gathered at Windham Academy on Industrial Drive on Sept. 17 for an official ribbon-cutting grand opening ceremony.
The public charter school is a STEM-based learning curriculum — meaning its emphasis is on science, technology, engineering and math — and currently enrolls students in grades kindergarten through 4.
The goal is to grow and eventually include students up to eighth grade.
Windham Academy officially opened its doors last year, welcoming 115 students and operating in about 13,000 square feet on the ground level of the Industrial Drive facility. The plan grew into approximately 26,000 square feet as more grade levels were added.
Tuesday was also Constitution Day, giving students a chance to participate in the grand opening ceremony by reciting information about the Constitution and leading patriotic songs.
Jim Fricchione, chairman of Windham Academy’s board of trustees, welcomed the crowd and said it was a special day.
“This is emotional for me,” he said. “We’ve been looking to get school choice and a charter school in town for a long time.”
Fricchione said it’s been a dream come true to finally see the school building complete, crediting many who supported the project and helped see it through to completion.
Guests present at Tuesday’s ceremony included Drew Cline, chairman of the New Hampshire Board of Education, and members of the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce.
Fricchione described Cline as a strong supporter of charter schools and a friend of Windham Academy.
For Cline, seeing the school ready is due to a lot of work from many supporting the project.
“There are a whole lot of ideas about what education can look like,” Cline said. “All the years and years of dedication to have a vision is one thing, but to put all these years of work, to pull it off, it’s pretty amazing. I see a bunch of children with new and exciting opportunities.”
“We are dedicated to make this a school of excellence for years to come,” Fricchione said.
School Director Melinda Labo said the “new school on the hill” began as a glimmer of hope.
She described the first year at Windham Academy, where students were taught in hot classrooms while hearing construction sounds outside as crews worked on completing the building.
Labo credited the construction teams for making the school an “incredible building.”
There are 16 towns represented this year and sending children to Windham Academy, Labo said, adding the school is the only STEM elementary school so far in New Hampshire.
The school currently serves 180 children and their families.
In addition to the ribbon-cutting, those at Windham Academy will be burying a time capsule filled with special messages from students, a copy of the U.S. Constitution, and other current school information.
To learn more about the school, visit windhamacademy.net.