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New academic wing provides greater learning opportunities for Beverly School for the Deaf

Posted by Swati Gauri Sharma  April 18, 2011 02:18 PM

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Alyssa M. Baxter

Mark Carlson, executive director of the school,.gets help with the ribbon-cutting.

The $5 million, 28,000 square foot academic wing “is not just bricks and steel,” said Len Femino, president of the Board of Trustees of The Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf (CCD/BSD), in a speech Thursday morning. “It is the future for these students.”

Femino was part of the dedication ceremony April 14 at the Beverly school where dozens of students, faculty, and staff gathered along with parents, alumni, board and community members at the entrance of the new building to celebrate the new facility with speeches and tours. A nine-year-old student helped Femino cut the multi-colored ribbon. The ceremony was followed by a celebration luncheon.

The building was funded in part as a result of a coordinated campaign that started last year, according to Shelley Cardegna, development associate at CCC/BSD since 2009. “The Connecting Kids Campaign [has been] a major gifts campaign to raise funds for the new building as well as updates to the existing structures on campus such as the Wales Wing and the exterior of the Burnham Gymnasium,” she said.

$424,147 has been raised to date and will be put toward furniture and fittings for the new wing, technology, and classroom furniture as well as assist in paying off the loan, said Cardegna. “Since we do not receive any state or federal funding to build new academic space, we have to rely on donors to help us pay off our private loan. Money is raised from foundations [grants], corporations, and individual donors,” she said.

Cardegna said construction for the new wing began in March 2010 and was funded through numerous donor partners such as The Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, Danversbank Charitable Foundation, Salem Five Heritage Charitable Foundation, CVS Caremark, and Windover Construction, LLC, whose company built the new structure, Beverly Cooperative Bank, North Shore Bank, and the Property and Casualty Initiative.

“The addition to our facilities will provide all students with access to more focused learning areas,” said Mark Carlson, executive director of CCC/BSD. Carlson said that the new wing included an art room, music room, vocational rooms, dining hall and kitchen, as well as a 1,500 square foot library.

“Classrooms and common spaces are designed to meet the needs of children with mobility challenges, hearing loss, and unique learning needs,” he said. “This universal design and construction reduces barriers to learning and provides flexibility in how information is presented. It allows all children regardless of a physical or developmental need to have complete access to learning and participation throughout their day.”

Other features that the 57 CCC/BSD students will utilize are the 12 new classrooms stocked with cutting edge technology and specially designed one-on-one rooms, new lockers, and an accessible ramp between floors that Carlson calls “the racetrack for students learning to drive their wheelchairs.”

“Our programs have been at the forefront of using technology in the classroom. This technology must be at the fingertips of all our students and teachers,” said Carlson. “We have reached our vision for electronic white boards in all classrooms. Our next vision is for each student to be using an iPad or iTouch throughout their day.”

According to Carlson, only about 10 percent of their students are using these devices today but that children with communication disorders can be immediate communicators with them, and said such tools are critical to their learning.

Barry Pett, a representative for Senators Bruce Tarr and Fred Berry, was also on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and gave a formal citation from the Senate in congratulations on the new wing with best wishes for the school’s furthered success, acknowledging CCC/BSD’s emphasis on learning.

The school, which began in 1876 by William B. Swett, includes students from 65 cities and towns throughout northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and school officials hope that this new building continues to increase growth.

“Our goal is to increase enrollment for our on-campus programs through a manageable 5-10 percent per year," said Carlson. “This includes our school programs [CCC Program and BSD Program], parent-infant/toddler program, after school program, and in our community sign classes.”

Carlson also hopes to develop an educator-training program with a local college, which will focus on communication disorders, and the speech language needs of children as well as continually improve the facilities of CCC/BSD “to create new independent thinkers.”

“This new addition puts learning at its best,” said Carlson.

For more information on CCC/BSD located at 6 Echo Ave in Beverly, visit www.thechildrenscenterforcommunication.org.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Gordon College News Service.

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