More than four years after a winter fire ravaged the East Somerville Community School and scattered the educational path of hundreds of students across the district, dozens of officials, parents, and students Friday hailed the installation of the structure's final steel beam.
"We chased our hopes and dreams to make sure this building is fully built," said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, who lauded the community's strength and perseverance during the years of planning for reconstruction.
"Even though students were displaced in four schools, enrollment went up during those years. We now have more students than on the day of the fire," Curtatone said.
The $33.1 million project is slated for completion by the fall of 2013, officials said. In addition to classrooms that housed more than 500 students, Superintendent Anthony Pierantozzi said the district lost among the largest gymnasiums and auditoriums available in Somerville.
"I think that in crisis comes opportunity," Pierantozzi said. "A school is not a building, it's not a place it's not the stuff. Our mascot is the Phoenix, and like the Phoenix, we will rise again."