Renovated school is a ‘very happy building’

Although students have been there since the first day of school in September, the community got a chance to see the newly renovated Miller-Driscoll School at an open house in September. The comments were positive.

Many visitors were like Michael and Meryll Wolfman, curious to see how the school their own children attended years ago had been transformed.

“It’s beautiful, it’s amazing,” they said. “Our kids were here 30 some-odd years ago — our taxes at work.”

“We are very pleased and impressed,” said Bill Glass. “It’s very bright and airy and welcoming.

Many people, particularly staff members who work in the building, commented on the light pouring through large windows.

“The natural light has an effect on you, and the bright colors,” said Gina Dignon, the district’s K-8 humanities coordinator. “When you walk in, it’s a big change.”

After the Miller and Driscoll schools were combined years ago and the pre-K classrooms were added, the building had a sprawling feel to it. The new classroom configuration makes the building more contiguous, Dignon said. “It’s a good investment by the town,” she said. “It really feels like one building.”

Preschool Director Bernadette Hess also loves “the light, the windows, the open spaces. I love our preschool conference room” with its large, colorful mural, she said.

“It’s a very happy building,” she said. “It reflects the children. It’s light and bright and happy.”

Paraprofessional Skip Ploss showed off the television studio where a crew of 20 students announce birthdays and lunch menus and lead the Pledge of Allegiance each day. They also review historical birthdays, the day in history, and the day of the school year.

With 190 students signed up for AV spots, they perform anchor, lighting, and sound duties. “Everyone gets to do everything,” said Ploss, who oversees the studio with second grade teacher Brian Ennis.

Ellie and Grace Jeanes, 11 and 9, were most impressed by the “very big” playground and “wiggly chairs” in some of the classrooms.

Science teacher Kevin Meehan sees the building as a challenge from the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) lab to the outdoor learning center.

“The community is saying to us, ‘We’ve given you the tools, now do something extraordinary.’

“I love the building,” he said, adding that it will enable teachers to “improve delivery and improve engagement.”

Longtime resident Nea Martin said the renovation was “a stunning job. How can anybody not love it?”