Big Changes for Some Stow Students

By Ann Needle

Aerial views of the new Center School, ready to open September 4. Great Rd is in the foreground. Thanks to Central Mass Helicopters and Nancy DiGiovanni for the photos, taken several weeks ago.

   Something is missing, and it’s a sure sign of the times. Gone from the Nashoba Regional web site is the link to a dedicated site for Pompositticut School. Kindergarten through grade 3 classrooms have officially moved into the new Center School for the September 4 start of school.
   “We’ve got our certificate of temporary occupancy, and we’re ready to go,” proclaimed Owner’s Project Manager’s Rep. Paul Griffin, who has spearheaded Center’s construction over the past two years. Grades 4 and 5 moved into the new wing in February, and will be joined there by third graders. Kindergarten through grade 2 will be housed in the old Center, which has been renovated and attached to the wing.
   Of the few items not yet finished in the renovated portion, Griffin said the most noticeable will be temporary doors to a few of the rooms. Griffin also noted that project officials still are trying to work out an agreement to sod the fields this fall. That way, they should be ready to be played on come spring, a big goal for the ball field, he said.
   Another priority is completing the “punch list” of minor items that need to be finished in both buildings, or were not done to the project’s satisfaction, said Griffin. Once work is complete, the final occupancy permit will be issued.
   “Students will notice that the building is much larger than what they have experienced in previous years,” remarked Center Principal Kevin LaCoste — perhaps an understatement. “The [entire] building is almost 100,000 square feet, with close to two acres of outside space to play. The gym and cafeteria combined are close to 9,000 square feet!”
Drop Off and Buses
   LaCoste stressed that opening day also brings a new drop-off/pick-up route at Center. The full procedures for drop off and pick-up are being finalized and will be posted on the school’s website, at by the end of the week. LaCoste did say that drop off/pick up will be via the school’s Great Rd. entrance. The Hartley Road entrance now will be used for staff parking and buses. The Bus Routes are posted at
   Concern for whether the new pattern will mean back-ups on 117 was discussed briefly at the most recent Elementary School Building Committee meeting. However, the group agreed to take a wait-and-see attitude, pointing out that any issues will likely be in the town’s hands.
Outside the Building
   Of course, there are plenty of changes going on beyond the finishing off of Center’s new structure. With Center’s new building comes high-tech items previously found only at Hale Middle School and Nashoba Regional High School, including SMART Boards, Google Chromebooks, and iPads, according to LaCoste. Involving students further in the learning process, LaCoste explained that this technology can even be taken outside the classroom.
   As for staff, perhaps the most noticeable changes have been triggered by a combined Pompo and Center, reducing the need for a few positions. In this case, long-time Pompo Secretary Linda Marashio will retire at the end of next week, after working with the Center staff over the summer to help with the schools’ transition, LaCoste reported. Julie Hendley, the former nurse at Center, will become the nurse at Bolton’s Emerson School, he added. Pompo Nurse Donna Linstrom will be caring for all the students at Center.
   With about 574 students starting school at Center next month, LaCoste said that first and third grades will be the largest classes, each with 113 students.
   Among the teaching staff, LaCoste listed the new faces as, Zuzana Artim (kindergarten); Julie Pettersen (first grade), Kim LaFortune (third grade, returning from maternity leave); Marissa Pacileo (Instructional Aide, filling in as long-term substitute for Aide Kathy Brown, who in turn is filling in for first grade’s Karen Mayotte, who is on maternity leave); Catherine Olier (Special Education); Paula Backiel (Instructional Technology); Allyson Rottman (Instrumental Music); and Leah Sutton (Art). Sutton was an Art teacher at the high school.
Hale Becomes a Cool School
   Meanwhile, Hale has a number of its own changes to report. Principal George King said the new air conditioning system should be running by opening day. This will cool down all of the school’s academic classrooms, he added. (Areas such as the gym, the Music room, and cafeteria will not be covered.)
   Among the Hale staff, Karen Boisvert has moved from teaching seventh to eighth grade Math. Elisha Arsenault will teach grade 7 Math. King explained that Boisvert and Arsenault will be conducting a new “looping” program, where the teachers will have their Math students for two years.
   Former eighth grade English Language Arts Teacher Kim Rocha has moved on to teach ELA at the high school. Stepping into her position will be Mike Turpin, who is moving up from grade 6 ELA. He will be replaced by Amy Styls. In seventh grade, Alison Moore will teach ELA until Amy Rench returns from maternity leave later in the fall.
   With Instructional Technology Teacher Cheryl Benson having retired in June, she will be replaced by Gregg Newton, who King mentioned has worked in the district for several years. King said that the search is still on for a new Technology Education teacher. This position opened up last year, when Bill Cleary became the district’s facilities director. This position is employed by Minuteman High School.