Hutchinson School Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
The Pelham Public Schools commemorated the opening of a brand new, state-of-the-art Hutchinson Elementary School on Thursday, September 9, 2021 with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by school officials, current and former Board of Education members, students, staff and several of Pelham’s elected representatives.
“This new Hutchinson School is a shining example of what a community can accomplish together when we collectively work on behalf of our children,” said Dr. Cheryl H. Champ, Superintendent of Schools.
Plans for constructing a new Hutchinson School were developed as part of a bond referendum, which was overwhelmingly approved by Pelham voters in May 2018 following extensive discussion and debate about how to best address the needs of the 100-year old school, which was decommissioned at the end of last school year. Priorities for the new school included expanding overall capacity, ensuring accessibility for all students and creating innovative and flexible learning spaces reflective of the District’s Strategic Goal of Authentic Learning.
The school features a central learning commons and MakerSpace surrounded by two floors of flexible classroom space with break out “front porch” space and adjacent small collaboration “pods” that extend learning and collaboration beyond the classroom. The design incorporated playful colors, light fixtures, acoustic panels and recessed nooks to inspire and relate to the young students that will occupy the building.
“While the exterior of this new school is something to marvel at, what I find the most exciting is the power of the 21st learning environments that were created on the inside,” said Dr. Trisha Nugent Fitzgerald, Principal of Hutchinson School. “I am proud to be part of a school district that has had the foresight to explore the use of space in schools prior to the scaffolding ever being installed.”
The 68,000 square foot elementary school serving grades K-5 was designed by KG&D Architects and construction was overseen by Triton Construction Management.
“The design solution is a balance between a contemporary and traditional approach that creates a modern and progressive learning environment while allowing the new building to fit into the neighborhood and the aesthetic of the older buildings in the community,” said Russell Davidson, President of KG&D.
In developing the new school, the Board and architectural team sought to create a space that would benefit the entire Pelham community. The school features a full-sized gym while the cafeteria/multipurpose room includes a fully equipped kitchen as well as a stage. The learning commons, gym and cafeteria are configured together in order to allow for community access after school hours and during the summer without compromising the security of the classroom areas.
The building was also designed to be equivalent to LEED Silver Standards which is an indication of a highly sustainable or “green” building. This was accomplished with extensive daylighting, LED lighting, additional insulation, sustainable materials selections and efficient water and heating systems. The building, which was designed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, also has many healthy features including the extensive use of fresh, highly filtered outside air to ventilate all occupied spaces. Energy Recovery units allow for no re-circulation of air while maintaining an energy-efficient approach.
In her remarks, former Board of Education President Madeline Smith spoke about the Pelham community’s ability to come together to solve complex problems, noting the many different voices that worked together on the 2018 bond proposal.
“I feel extremely fortunate and proud to be a part of this caring and supportive community - here today celebrating Pelham’s new Hutchinson Elementary School,” Ms. Smith said.
Over the next several months, the former Hutchinson Elementary School will be removed to make way for new athletic fields, playgrounds, a student garden and outdoor dining/gathering space. New landscaping will be installed throughout the site as the planting seasons allow. Included in the project are the planting of 43 new trees and over 300 other plantings as well as new lawn areas.
“Like a special home, it isn’t just the physical structure, but the people and memories within it that make it exceptional,” said Board of Education President Jessica DeDomenico. “While it will be bittersweet for many to see the old building come down later this year, it is clear that great care has been given to weaving all that makes Hutchinson so extraordinary into the fabric of its new home.
“A decade from now, when the new Hutchinson School feels like a place which has always been a part of this town, those of us who are standing here today will know we each played an important role in the greater good of our community,” Mrs. DeDomenico added.
The ribbon cutting ceremony also included remarks from State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, State Assemblymember Amy Paulin and County Executive George Latimer.