PEABODY — If you were expecting to have a new Higgins Middle School costing roughly $83 million, you might have been startled when the figure coming out of the School Building Authority was actually $92 million.
Earlier, discussions centered around the former — and lower — figure, after all.
What caused the increase? Had someone neglected to carry the nine? Did they order extra book bags? Will the floors be heated?
No. The answer is a bit more understandable. The increase actually stems from the reluctance of the state to give the kids an auditorium. Instead, they offered a stage, but no place for the audience. “The other option,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said, “was a ‘cafetorium.’”
Anyway, it wasn’t enough for the mayor, who cites the need to support “the great performing arts we have in our middle school.” Additionally, an auditorium can be used for civic events.
As soon as the state balked on the auditorium, Bettencourt expressed his determination to have such a facility. Now, the city, on its own, will produce the extra money needed to put one in.
The Holocaust Center, Boston North director and co-founder Harriet Wacks had a few tense moments at Monday’s Holocaust Memorial at Peabody High School.
She juggled the schedule when it proved difficult to locate featured speaker, former Boston College history professor Paul Breines, allowing Salem State University President Patricia Meservey to talk first.
Finally, she asked from the podium if Breines was in the hall. He promptly got up and headed for the stage.
“I was pretty freaked out,” a relieved Wacks joked to the gathering as he approached. “He doesn’t look like his picture.”
It’s not easy running these events.
Wacks was the center of attention a short time later when Sandy Weitz, daughter of co-founder and death camp survivor the late Sonia Weitz, presented her with framed photos to honor 30 years of helping establish and run the center.
“It was you who worked tirelessly behind the scenes,” Weitz said. “And we know how difficult it was for you to continue the mission without Sonia.”
In response, Wacks praised all the volunteers who have helped to keep the center going. On a somber note, she noted the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors. “When we first began, we had so many candles up here.”
But it isn’t as grim as it sounds, she indicated. “Some of them are in Florida. Which is a good thing.”
In the Navy
Why shouldn’t Peabody have an interest in the Navy? Yes, the city even has some coastline on Beverly Harbor — somewhere in the vicinity of Bishop Fenwick High School — and not only can you smell the salt water, sometimes it even visits.
In the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Charles Veit, president of the Navy & Marine Historical Association, will be speaking at the Peabody Historical Society’s Smith Barn on Felton Street about how the Navy helped save the Union — often grappling with the Confederacy on the nation’s rivers. A $5 fee is required to hear all about epic conflicts like the First Battle of Shiloh (on the Tennessee River), the great Navy cattle drive (in Missouri) and the engagement at Deloges Bluff (on the Red River in Louisiana).
Th-th-th-that’s all, folks
Making a serious point about shortcomings in Peabody High School, school board member Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne spoke out at Tuesday’s meeting, turning to the student advisers to ask what the science department needs to make it function properly.
“Ventilation,” senior Nick Gilbert said. “The entire school can tell when AP anatomy is dissecting a pig.”
“Air fresheners?” the mayor suggested at one point.