CHELSEA  — Teachers who toured the new school were downright silly, laughing and giggling and acting like children.

It was the first time Chelsea Elementary School staffers were allowed to see where they will be working come fall.

Regional School Unit 12 broke ground on the $18.9 million construction project in May 2010. The 60,000-square-foot building on Route 226 is next to the existing school.

The staff got a gander Thursday of the full-size middle school gymnasium, the main office and meeting rooms, library, cafeteria, computer laboratory, bathrooms, the teachers’ room — which in the old school was the size of a closet — and their own classrooms.

Kirsten Perry, who teachers sixth, seventh and eight grade jumped around and cried “Oh my goodness!” when she stepped into her classroom on the second floor.

“Everyone’s so excited,” Perry said. “The students and community deserve this building. I live in this community, so as a community member, it’s good to see this happening.”

The school will have enough room for 315 students and will be an American Red Cross-certifiable shelter. The old school currently enrolls 230 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The first floor was the least finished. Rooms were etched out with steel beams and concrete blocks. Workers were further along on the second floor. Classroom walls were already painted light greens and blues and bright sunlight shined through the large windows.

Principal Andrew Dorion led the tour of staffers wearing yellow hard-hats.

“We’re really excited,” Dorion said. “We’ve lived with other things for a very long time. The analogy I’ve been using is we’re going from the Flintstones to the Jetsons.”

Stacy DelGallo, a third-grade teacher, said it’s more than a new building; It’s better technology and more consistency.

“At (the old school) when it rained we wondered if we were going to get the Internet,” DelGallo said. “(The new building) changes the whole attitude about education. It’s going to revamp community spirit and school spirit.”

The new building on a 17-acre site was designed by Oak Point Associates, a Biddeford-based firm. Arthur Dudley Construction of Standish is the contractor.

Carl Cooke, owner’s representative for the project, said construction was slowed down a bit this past winter because of all the snow storms. Nevertheless, the building is 65 percent completed.
The Chelsea Elementary School was built in the 1950s. Officials have said that a new school was needed because there isn’t enough space at the existing school to accommodate state-and federally-mandated programs.

An education technician with a fifth grader who will be attending the school is extremely pleased with the upgrade. She said it will be “wonderful” for the children not to have to work with materials that are old and worn out.

“Everything’s new!” Carol Harrington said. “There’s new technology that will help students be successful. The morale is going to be unbelievable. We’ve been making sacrifices for so long . . . this is a huge reward.”

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408
[email protected]