Collegiate Stories

Collegiate Featured in The Lowell Sun

LOWELL — Seven years after having nowhere but the basement of the Holy Trinity Church to hold classes, freshmen and sophomores lined the hallways of the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell on Monday as school officials opened their brand new high school building.

“I am very excited with this new building, we can step into our future with pride,” 10th-grader Kaemon Wambua said to the crowd of students and faculty shortly before cutting the ceremonial red ribbon. “On behalf of all the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell students, thank you for today and thank you for this high school.”

Construction on the three-story, 45,000-square-foot addition to CCSL’s K-8 building, at 1857 Middlesex St., began in the spring of 2020 and cost around $12 million, according to Business Manager Carl Nystrom.

It features 30 classrooms, three fully equipped science labs, an art room, a music room, a cafeteria and a gymnasium, though two of the three floors won’t open until September.

School Director Dr. Laurie Hodgdon said that they also installed a new, state-of-the-art filtration system.

“Today’s ceremony highlights and is a tangible reminder of our mission to inspire a lifelong passion for learning and help our students become the best version of themselves academically, with integrity and responsibility at the core of their high school experience,” Hodgdon said.

CCSL first opened its doors to grades K-3 in 2013, and after bouncing from the church basement to the gymnasium at Hellenic American Academy, opened its first permanent location in 2016 to grades K-6 as part of a $17 million construction project.

School officials have been incorporating a new grade level each year since and hope to become a full K-12 program by 2023.

“It’s pretty cool,” said 10th-grader Brooke Taylor, who’s been enrolled in CCSL for seven years and in third grade was taught in the church basement. “This new school represents how far we’ve come.”

The ribbon-cutting doubled as a welcoming ceremony for students in grades nine and 10, as they had been learning remotely since March 2020. Meanwhile, the students in grades K-8 had been coming into the existing building part-time as part of the school’s hybrid learning model.

“It feels amazing, to have the kids back,” Hodgdon said. “To hear their laughter after they’ve been away for 13 months, I just can’t say enough about it, it’s really exciting.”

The building expansion, which had already been delayed a year, was expected to open in the fall 2020 but was delayed again by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Congratulations on today. This is a wonderful beginning, this is your school, celebrate it, enjoy it, succeed,” Board of Trustees President Walter McGrail said to the students.

“You really deserve a lot of medals, because we have had quite a time of it to get to this stage and you hung in there,” added CCSL Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Kathleen McCarthy. “To be home for 13 months doing what you have been doing is just beyond words. You kids are going to do great things.”

City Councilman Sokhary Chau was present for the ceremony and read a citation from Mayor John Leahy congratulating the school, the students and their families on the opening of the new addition.

“I have never seen such a group of happy faces starting the first day of school in my life,” Chau said. “What a wonderful success it is to see the school grow and to have so many dedicated teachers, parents and students.”

Courtesy of The Lowell Sun.


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