Some Springfield students begining new school year in brand-new building

Monday was the first day of the new academic year for more than 24,000 first through twelfth grade students at Springfield Public Schools.
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 3:11 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Monday was the first day of the new academic year for more than 24,000 first through twelfth grade students at Springfield Public Schools, but it was also the first day for a brand-new elementary school.

It’s the start of a new era for those in the Homer Street School and DeBerry school communities. While Monday was the first day of school for thousands of students in grades one through 12, it was also the first day for a brand-new school years in the making. The DeBerry Swan School is a state-of-the-art building that principal Sharonda Hector is thrilled about.

“This school looks absolutely amazing. The students were really excited to come in. They have all of the bells and whistles,” Hector said.

It combines two schools under one roof - the old DeBerry School and Homer Street School – and it’s renamed after former state representative and civil rights activist Benjamin Swan. Almost 900 students between first and fifth grade will learn here. Assistant Principal Teresa Ferrentino told Western Mass News that it is amazing to see the final result and the reactions have been positive.

“The kids’ faces and families’ faces were just purely amazing and the awe and smiles on their faces just said it all,” Ferrentino said.

The project to build the school included input from community members like Mattie Jenkins, a parent liaison at the school. Five years and $95 million later, she told Western Mass News what makes this place special.

“We have a smaller classroom setting for the students, we have beautiful staff, and we have bigger playgrounds, and we have a modern school for technology. Our kids here, I think it’s a better place for them to learn because of the environment of the school itself,” Jenkins explained.

There are many benefits for students on both sides of the building. For instance, there is a new media center they have access to when it comes to both books and technology.

“There’s a long-standing tradition of excellence here at DeBerry, both at our previous school and now. It’s nice to see that that continues on here at our new building,” said assistant principal Ravan East.

Administrators said the future of DeBerry Swan looks bright. The best part, though, according to Swan Principal Catherine Roberts, is the campus gives students of both schools the opportunity to meet in the middle and come together.

“That’s how learning happens and the collaboration, not just with Principal Hector over at DeBerry and the staff. It’s about the students and that’s what we stay focused on,” Roberts said.

The kindergarten class for DeBerry Swan will walk through the doors for the first time next Tuesday.

The old DeBerry school, located right next to the new campus, is currently being torn down and will be turned into DeBerry Swan’s new parking lot. That lot is expected to be completed and ready by the start of the next school year.