AYER-SHIRLEY -- During the recent meeting of the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District School Committee, committee member Michele Granger publicly thanked Horn Packaging Corp. for its donation of 375 packing boxes to aid in the move from the high school to the middle school wing of Ayer-Shirley Regional High School, in anticipation of the upcoming building renovation.

"We welcome your donation, and these boxes will certainly help in our two-day scramble in moving from one end of the building to the other," stated school district superintendent Carl Mock in a Jan. 18 letter to Horn Customer Service Manager Amy Larocque.

The move is to take place on March 6 and March 7, with the help of Ayer Moving & Storage.

The building exterior

Mock said there had been a lot of Building Committee activity in the previous two weeks. On Jan. 24, the committee looked at the exterior walls and discussed the renovated building's exterior design.

Seven members of the committee traveled to the offices of Simms Maini & McKee Associates in Cambridge to look at various exterior design alternatives and provide input. SMMA is the building project designer.

Six building committee members also visited the new SMMA-designed Grafton High School, and held a telephone conference with owner's project manager Trip Elmore (of Dore & Whittier Management Partners) and other Building Committee members.


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The committee was scheduled to look at some new renditions of the building exterior last Thursday night. At issue is matching the new wing with the existing building so as to tie the two together, Mock stated. Under consideration are the brick, paneling and paint.

"We want to make a positive and interesting statement on the front of the building from Washington Street," he explained.

The Building Committee also planned to visit the new Tewksbury Memorial High School project. Tewskbury is a $66.5 million SMMA project with a 218,781-square-foot building. Grafton's $72.4 million project is approximately 186,351 square feet.

By comparison, Ayer-Shirley is a $56.5 million project of about 143,808 square feet. The district is authorized to receive a Massachusetts State Building Authority total facilities grant of up to approximately $37 million, or about 65 percent of the total cost.

Mock said a building facilities subcommittee was scheduled to meet with Ayer-Shirley Technology Director Mike Thibeault to discuss the integration of automation systems, and that the high school logistics group was getting ready for the move.

A smaller group at Page Hilltop Elementary School is looking at the relocation of the central office, which will take place mid-June.

After-school program additions

Granger announced that Ayer resident Laurie Nehring had obtained grant awards from both the Ayer and Shirley cultural councils to offer outdoor experiences for PHT and Lura A. White Elementary School students after school.

At PHT, Ayer Community Partnership after-school students in grades 2 through 5 will have the opportunity to hike on Ayer conservation land, study its forest and pond areas and geological features, and obtain camping skills.

At LAW, extended-day students in grades 4 and 5 will have a similar opportunity that incorporates the school's "Adopt-A-Grandparent" program, run by LAW Extended Day Director Susan Noll. The grandparent program maintains a relationship with residents of Ayer's Nashoba Park Assisted Living facility.

School District retirees

Granger announced that six Ayer-Shirley staff retirees have dedicated a combined 162 years of service to Ayer and Shirley students.

High school English teacher Paula Sullivan and third-grade LAW teacher Catherine Nacke will each retire after 36 years of service at the end of this school year.

High school instructional technology teacher and athletic director Justin Lamoreaux retires after 32 years of service, and PHT physical education teacher Mary Palmer is retiring after 17 years.

PHT Health teacher Sharon Matthews has 15 years of service, and PHT cafeteria employee Frances Desjardin retires after 26 years of service to Ayer students.

-- Dina Samfield