Hill Park is officially no more.
A groundbreaking ceremony on Monday to welcome in the new Hill School officially put generations of softball games, tennis matches, pickup basketball games and swinging children into the history books of the City.
Ushered in were the smiles of future and past generations of parents, students and teachers who had finally seen the fruits of so many years of advocating for a new school. The torch had been passed from activists such as Betty Marotta to Janet Cimmino and on to Benae Bertocchi. All had started pushing for a new school when their children were little, and all had seen their children come and go without getting the new school.
On Monday, so many promises were fulfilled, they said.
“It’s a great feeling to see this finally happen,” said Bertocchi, whose children will not get to go to the new school as they will be too old. “That’s why I’ve been on the Building Committee. It’s definitely going to be a beautiful school and much needed. I will be able to look out of my window and see it. Maybe in the future my grandchildren can attend the school. Who knows?”
Mayor Dan Rizzo said this school was the final piece of the puzzle and one that has been long overdue for a group of very patient parents and school staffers.
“This is the final piece of the puzzle for a five-school plan that started when we built the West Revere Complex,” said Rizzo. “School after school was built in other parts of the city and these parents watched patiently while having a school that had an overall lack of amenities offered in other elementary school buildings. I am happy to say to you that today is your day…This is a promise I’m glad we kept.”
Principal Ed Moccia was nearly speechless after the groundbreaking. That’s because so many times a school had been promised and so many times it either got delayed or didn’t happen.
Monday was different.
“This is a great day for the students, for the teachers and for the McKinley/Hill School community,” he said. “They deserve this. They’ve waited for it. It’s going to be an unbelievable school. Now, all I have to do is figure out what I’m going to do with all this new space.”
The other piece of the equation was the sacrifice of the Hill family – a family that goes back generations in Revere. The long-standing park that formerly occupied the site was named for their family member, James Hill. He was one of three brothers killed during World War II. The park was sacred ground to the family for generations.
When plans were announced to take the park and turn it into a school, the family didn’t take to the idea initially. After quite a bit of discussion, sometimes heated discussion, they agreed to the change under the condition that the school would bear the name of James Hill.
It was a no-brainer accommodation for a family that has given so much to Revere over the decades.
“The new Sgt. James J. Hill School will be known for decades to come,” said the mayor. “We want to thank the family for their sacrifice. They can be comforted in knowing that hundreds of students walking through the doors of this school will know the sacrifice that was made.”
Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Reardon also thanked the family for accommodating the school.
“I want to thank the Hill Family for their appreciation for the fact there could be no bigger honor than to have one’s name attached to a school such as we are about to build,” he said. “The Park was named after Sgt. Hill for a very long time and this in my vision is a step up for him…This is the mark of a community that holds dear the value of education and a City that puts its children first.”
State School Building Authority (MSBA) Director Jack McCarthy said his organization is ready to be partners with Revere one last time.
“We are your partner in this and your partner financially to the tune of 80 percent of eligible costs, which comes out to be just under $30 million of this $45 million project.”
Supt. Paul Dakin said it is the people in the buildings that drive education, but it should not be discounted the effect that will be had on education by replacing a 100 year old building such as the McKinley.
“Don’t dismiss the fact that facilities do play a critical role in the development of children and also the perception people have of a community,” he said.
An official ribbon cutting to open the school has been tentatively scheduled for August 2016.
Overseeing the project for the City is Simon Tempest of Hill Associates (no relation to the Hill Family). Tempest has overseen most every other school project for the City and has a long-standing relationship with City and school officials.
The general contractor is CTA Construction, which also built the Public Safety Facility five years ago.
Those on the Hill School Building Committee include Councillor Reardon, Supt. Dakin, Mayor Rizzo, Director of Finance George Anzuoni, Principal Moccia, Benae Bertocchi, Director of Maintenance Carl Svendson, Council President Tony Zambuto, School Committee members Carol Tye, Michael Ferrante and Stacey Rizzo, and former Councillor John Correggio.