ROCKLAND — Superintendent Alan Cron is pleased to announce that the Rockland Public Schools held a topping-off ceremony for the future Phelps Elementary School building.
The ceremony took place on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at the site of the future Phelps Elementary School on Lt. Col. Brian Duffy Way, located next to the Rogers Middle School.
As part of the event, a beam was put into place to mark the conclusion of the current construction phase of the project. The district made three banners — one for each of the district’s three elementary schools — and elementary students signed the banners which were then attached to the beam.
At the conclusion of the ceremony the beam was lifted by a crane and put into place on the building.
“We are so excited to have this project moving along ahead of schedule, and soon we will have a state-of-the-art building that will meet the needs of Rockland students for years to come,” Superintendent Cron said. “I want to thank the many people who made this project possible, including our Town and State partners, members of the Rockland Public Schools, and the residents of Rockland who have supported this project from the beginning.”
Massachusetts School Building Authority Executive Director Jack McCarthy gave a brief history of topping-off ceremonies. He commended Rockland for their tradition of supporting education and putting students’ needs first.
State Sen. John Keenan and State Rep. David DeCoste were also present for the ceremony, as were representatives from the Town of Rockland, the Rockland School Committee, consulting firm PMA and the design firm SMMA.
Also on hand was Richard Phelps, a longtime supporter of public education in Rockland, for whom the future school is named (along with his wife, Ann Phelps).
“I cannot think of a more fitting name for our new school, as it embodies the values and principles we hope all of our students strive for,” School Committee member Dan Biggins said. “We are thrilled that future generations of Rockland students will walk these halls and remember the names of Dick and Ann Phelps and all that they have done for education in our town.”
History of the Project
Residents in Rockland voted in favor of the new school project at Town Meeting on Dec. 2, 2019, and through a ballot vote in a Special Election on Dec. 7.
The new school will combine all Rockland elementary students in the first through fourth grade from the Memorial Park, Jefferson and R. Stewart Esten Elementary schools into one new 760-student elementary school.
The building project also features a lighted turf field to be located on the current site of the Memorial Park School. The new school will be located next door to the middle/high school complex.
The new, “green,” energy-efficient facility will feature large, open maker-spaces that encourage collaboration through the use of state-of-the-art technology as well as interdisciplinary and project-based learning. It will house spaces that emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education as well as outdoor classrooms to support a school-wide commitment to areas including special education, art and music.
About Ann and Richard Phelps
Richard Phelps was a member of the Rockland High School Class of 1958. In addition to serving 26 distinguished years on the Rockland School Committee (a position from which he recently retired), he was also a Trustee of the Rockland Public Library for three years, a member of the Rockland Finance Committee for 10 years, a founding member of the Rockland Capital Planning Committee.
He was a founding member of the Rockland Education Foundation. He served as Vice Chairman of the Rockland Middle School and High School Building Committee, Vice Chairman of the Rockland Senior Center Building Committee and Vice Chairman of the Rockland Elementary School Building Committee.
Ann Phelps, who passed away in 2017, was a member of the Rockland High School Class of 1959 and served as a Rockland High School Nurse for more than 18 years. She was the founder of Rockland’s “Holiday Magic” organization, dedicated to ensuring that Rockland families who have fallen on hard times could provide gifts to their children on Christmas.
She was also the founder of the Senior Issues Program at Rockland High School, was active in and a financial supporter of the Rockland Citizens Scholarship Foundation, and was a member of the Rockland High School Academic Hall of Fame.