New Clyde F. Brown Elementary School Opens in Millis

Jason Phelps, Principal, Clyde F. Brown Elementary School
September 7, 2019 marked the official opening of the new Clyde F. Brown Elementary School in Millis. From left, Nancy Gustafson (Superintendent, Millis Public Schools), Jack McCarthy (Deputy CEO/Executive Director of Mass School Building Authority), Jason Phelps, (Principal, Clyde F. Brown Elementary School), MA State Rep. Shawn Dooley, Millis Select Chair Loring Barnes, MA State Rep. David Linsky, Wayne Klocko, Chair of Millis Elementary School Building Committee, Marc Conroy, Millis School Committee Chair
Issue Date: 
October, 2019
Article Body: 

After four years of planning, communicating, decision making, construction, and program design, Clyde F. Brown Elementary opened its doors to students for the first time on Tuesday, September 4. This was a day of celebration but also a day to reflect upon the gratitude felt towards the citizenry of Millis for their support in making this dream happen for the CFB school community.
Ground breaking for the new building was held in December 2017, and construction commenced soon after. The CFB school community and the town watched with interest as the site was cleared and preparations made to begin pouring the building foundation. Over the winter and into the spring, we watched the skeletal framework of the building take shape and gradually acquire an internal framework for walls and other structures. When students and staff returned at the start of the 2018-2019 school year, the shape of the building was in place, and excitement was electric when we all returned from Thanksgiving break to find walls completed and window frames in place! Over the winter and into the spring construction continued internally, and CFB teachers and staff were given a “sneak preview” escorted tour by the project team Compass Management and Agostini-Bacon Construction. The school was now feeling less conceptual and more real, and Diane Jurmain of the Elementary School Building Committee shared out information about building progress to the community on Facebook. By the time school ended in June, classrooms were packed to move and events were held to honor the memory of the 1954 Clyde F. Brown school, including the creation of a 2019 time capsule interred within the new building and open house “farewell” tours at the old building.
Over the summer, prior to the start of school, CFB held “Find Your Way Days,” with student leaders assisting students and families as they completed a scavenger hunt of places to find around the new school. This was helpful to the school community as school opened and students and families adjusted to new routines and procedures. A major highlight of the opening include an official ribbon cutting ceremony, held on September 7, with the citizens of Millis and invited to attend and speakers Jack McCarthy (Deputy CEO/Executive Director of Mass School Building Authority), MA State Representatives David Linsky and Shawn Dooley, MA Senator Rebecca Rausch, Loring Barnes (Chair, Millis Board of Selectmen), Marc Conroy (Chair, Millis School Committee), Wayne Klocko, (Chair of the Millis Elementary School Building Committee), Superintendent of School Nancy Gustafson, and Principal Jason Phelps participating. Clyde F. Brown Student Leaders, who also served as tour guides later, were on hand to provide a musical selection as they sang the unofficial school song “Sweet Clyde F. Brown.”
As the new school year gets underway, teachers and staff reflect upon the curriculum and programming planning that we have done to prepare us for educating children in a state-of-the art, 21st Century school. In the younger grades, students will find more opportunites to personalize their learning through adaptive learning platforms, accessed by Chromebooks, as well as through the use of iPads to access apps designed to promote greater collaboration and presentation skills. In grades 2 through 5, students will now learn in a 1:1 capacity using Chromebooks to access web based learning material and to participate more fully in digital learning. All students will have the opportunity to learn about cross curricular connections as they identify problems, brainstorm possible solutions, and work together to create prototype models to solve these problems as they refine and revise these models in our spectacular STEAM lab.
This year, teachers will have the chance to more broadly implement curriculum changes that we have worked to revise over the past two years in preparation for the opening of the new school. Teachers, who have begun to collaborate with our Digital Literacy teacher, Pat Granchelli, will continue the redesign of more traditional curriculum to include a more global, relevant, digital and problem-focused approach to instruction as they co-teach students around these themes in the STEAM lab. In Phys Ed, students will have the chance to practice collaboration and physical fitness as they master the traverse climbing wall that is installed in the new Gym. And students will be empowered to take more ownership of learning within our Learning Commons in each wing, which are designed to provide immediate access to both text and digital resources for learning. We are so excited to begin a new year of learning, and so very grateful to the town of Millis for this gift of a new school!