Boston Builds $73 Million STEM Facility, First New School Building in 15 Years

The building will serve 600 students and provide two fabrication labs, 3D printers, a media center and laser die cutters as tools.

by Kathleen McKiernan, Boston Herald / August 23, 2018

(TNS) — Boston Public Schools is unveiling its new $73 million Dearborn STEM 6-12 Early College Academy today — a facility that city officials say is the first new school construction project in BPS in 15 years and a model for future projects.

The 128,000-square-foot facility at 36 Winthrop St. in Roxbury’s Dudley Square is outfitted with flexible indoor and outdoor learning classrooms, two fabrication labs, a dance studio, gymnasium, 3D printers, a media center and laser die cutters as tools.

“This is the first brand-new school opening in Boston in 15 years,” said Patrick Brophy, the mayor’s chief of operations. “This will be the standard-bearer.”

A ribbon cutting to unveil the new building is today at 3:30 p.m. with Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Interim Superintendent Laura Perille. The academy is at the same location as the previous Henry Dearborn School, built in 1913.

The facility — with about $37 million of the cost reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority — is the culmination of six years of planning, design and construction, officials said. Students have been working out of Jeremiah Burke High School in Dorchester as construction was underway.

With open, spacious classrooms, the building resembles a college facility and is designed to support the learning that happens inside with its focus on computer science, engineering, health and life sciences and college readiness.

“It’s meant to be a teaching tool for students,” said Mark Warner of Jonathan Levy Architects. “It’s all about creating a healthy learning environment in which to learn.”

The academy was designed to serve 600 students by 2020. Currently, there are 488 students with 60 staff. Eighty-five percent of students are non-white, with 49 percent of students as English language learners. Seventy-nine percent are low-income.

It was designed to link to the neighborhood and serve as a teaching tool for students.

“Families and kids in the neighborhood needed an opportunity for a building that would serve them better,” said Pam Pelletier, director of BPS’ K-12 Science & Technology/Engineering.

For Elias Arroyave, 18, an incoming senior, the wait for the new school building, with its 3D printers and fabrication labs, was worth it.

“For the longest time, I wanted this school to be new,” Arroyave said. “They’ve been amping it up for so long. I’m just glad I get to spend at least one year here.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Jon LoPorto, a computer science teacher, said. “It’s incredibly exciting and daunting. Last year, there were places in the room where we couldn’t put computers because the ceiling was falling. Now there are so many re­sources.”

©2018 the Boston Herald Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.