BEVERLY — A new era in the education of the city's public school students officially began yesterday as more than 100 invited guests got their first look at the gleaming $81 million Beverly High School.
With light pouring through windows and skylights, officials cut a ceremonial orange and black ribbon, and high school students led tours of the new four-story academic building and renovated portions of the attached old school.
Students, teachers and administrators will move into the new building Nov. 30.
"I just think it's going to excite students and make them want to come to school," said Sky Cowans, the junior class vice president who served as one of six tour guides. "We have great school spirit, and this just makes it more. It makes us proud."
State Treasurer Tim Cahill, who oversees the state's school building program, praised the project as a "model" for how to construct a state-of-the-art school within a reasonable budget. He said the new Beverly High School is just as good as recently opened Newton North High School, which at $200 million cost 21/2 times as much.
"No matter how much money you spend, there couldn't be a better building (than this one)," Cahill said in an interview after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "This is certainly a model for how you get it done."
The new four-story building features chemistry, physics and computer labs; a conference room with a state-of-the-art sound system; an art wing with rooms for music, chorus and cooking; and half-size "special learning centers" for classes such as English as a Second Language.
The top three floors each include an assistant principal's office and a carpeted teachers' lounge with a kitchenette. On the first floor is a computer tech support room where students can bring their laptop computers for repairs. The chorus and band rooms feature "sound cloud" ceiling panels that enhance acoustics.