New Hunking School Opens in Public Ceremony

Students and visitors parade through the entrance of the new Hunking School. (WHAV News photograph.)

Hunking clock tower sports gift tag from Shawmut Construction. (WHAV News photograph.)

Hunking clock tower sports gift tag from Shawmut Construction. (WHAV News photograph.)

Students, city leaders and the public took in features of the new Hunking School as the doors of the $61.5 million campus opened to students for the first time Thursday.

A student procession, led by members of the Haverhill School Committee and City Council, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Shawmut Construction, arrived outside the new Hunking’s main entrance holding a banner, “Here we come.” A gift tag mounted on the school’s clock tower by the contractor, welcomed faculty and students. A first flag raising followed with messages of thanks from a student representative, school administrators and Fiorentini. The mayor said, it had been “a long five years” from a structural “crisis” at the old Hunking to Thursday’s move-in ceremony. He thanked members of “Haverhill For Hunking” parents group and others who lobbied for a voter-approved debt exclusion to help pay for the project after two previous campaigns to pay for school rehabilitation projects failed.

“This time they supported it. This time every single elected official came on board,” Fiorentini said. He was also among several Hunking alumni in attendance, noting he graduated from the old Hunking in 1960 when that building was new.

Those gathered viewed indoor features near the main school entrance including a combined gymnasium-auditorium with performance stage, as well as an adjacent “Bobcat Cafe” with a partitioned wall separating them. Walls in both areas were adorned with words from government leaders to educators, including Scully.

“Take time to listen to the stories. Make time to learn of freedoms we cherish and the sacrifices made to maintain them,” reads Scully’s message to present and future students on a gymnasium wall.

Some also viewed the nearby library/media center and signed their names to several large, touch-screen “thank you” notes on display in the main hallway, also shared by the school’s main office and counseling department. A “thank you” poster, also signed by students, was observed on a lobby wall as well.

Scully, in a statement this week, said the student move-in begins the final phase, or school opening process, which will continue into spring and summer. When completed and fully occupied the new school will house about 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through eight, including those from Greenleaf Elementary School and elsewhere.

Prior to the ceremony, Shawmut Construction and Scully gave a walk-through.

Hunking Construction: A Walkthrough Before the Kids Come In 12-22-16 from Haverhill Public Schools on Vimeo.