New School, New Beginnings


Julia McDermet

After 58 years of counting, reading, and creating done by many  generations of children at Winthrop Elementary School in Ipswich, MA., we will hopefully see a major makeover. With the acceptance from the Massachusetts School Building Authorities’ grant program, a building committee was created and is in the early stages of planning. The committee still needs to decide whether there will be a new building or if renovations will be made to the current one, but one thing’s for sure, the building desperately needs it.  ”

“In the Fall of 2012, we began to write the extensive application to be chosen,” said Winthrop Principal, Sheila McAdams. “In the Spring of 2013, we submitted the first application and received a visit from state authorities in the fall of 2013.” The building was built to hold 350 students, but currently squeezes in 500 young boys and girls. Because of the over-crowding, a firefighter is needed at every assembly, costing the school $194 each time.

Not only is the school too small, but it is also falling apart as we speak. From the boiler to the lack of handicap accessibility, the school violates multiple building codes. Not only that, but students are being affected by the outdated construction. Students have to wear winter coats while in the art room, and the modular classroom for special needs and music doesn’t have a bathroom. With all these issues, faculty and students are forced to learn under poor conditions such as: teachers holding small or individualized lessons in the hallways.

Though most of us will be happy to possibly see the building go, no one can deny that they made so many great memories while at the school. From traditions such as the annual jump rope contest to the Ice Cream social, kids from many generations have enjoyed these events as not only students but also as parents. Many people who grew up in Ipswich and choose to raise their families here, because of the great community aspect of this beautiful town. “I remember walking down the halls and thinking it was so big,” explains Winthrop alma mater Heather McCarthy. “What I loved most was the crazy painted doors ways; they made the day a little more fun.”

Little details like colorful walkways and beautiful murals give the school its personality and fun teaching environment, but we may not be saying goodbye to them just yet. The building committee is still in the early stages of what could be a 5 year process. They are currently trying to figure out a key piece of the construction, having to pay for it. Building a new school can cost anywhere between $25 to $30 million, having the state pick up half of that cost. Article 10 of the fall Town Meeting warrant, which would allow the construction process to go on and fund 45 percent of the cost, needs at least a two-thirds vote if we wish to continue on to the next stages. If they don’t obtain the votes, we won’t get a chance like this for another 15 years. Another big question at hand is, where will we put this new school? No one has any suggestions yet as to where to build it, but it will need between 75,000 and 85,000 square feet, as opposed to the current 47,000 square feet it’s sitting on now. One of the many positive changes that would come from a new building is the ability to add space. “Having a larger cafeteria and gym, as well as an appropriately designed handicapped accessible building is incredibly important,” explained Mrs. McAdams.

No matter the outcome of the process, Winthrop families and faculty are grateful for the chance to have a new building. At the end of the day Winthrop is focused on the students opportunities to grow and create.Winthrop-Elementary-School-Ipswich-1-13