Cutting the ribbon on a new garden of learning

Posted 10/4/23

The Cranston School Department held a ceremonial ribbon cutting and speaking ceremony to celebrate the completion and opening of the new Garden City Elementary School Thursday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m.

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Cutting the ribbon on a new garden of learning


The Cranston School Department held a ceremonial ribbon cutting and speaking ceremony to celebrate the completion and opening of the new Garden City Elementary School Thursday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m.

Honored guests and media were invited to tour the new facilities and have some refreshments after the ceremonies and before the public open house held Saturday, Sept. 30, where about 500 members of the community gathered to view the new school.

“In November of 2020 30,814 Cranston voters approved our bond ($54 million), which was 79.5% of the total voter count,” Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse said in her opening remarks. The new school is home to more than 500 students.

 “The school is here because of the faith voters had in all of us and from unwavering support at the Federal level all the way to our staff, parents, students and everyone in between. Thank you all.”

Nota-Masse stressed that this new school is not a traditional elementary school rebuilt, but rather a new and innovative learning center. Rather than a common school with customarily square classrooms, the new Garden City School features a more open teaching environment.

“We have built an outstanding 21st-century educational facility that utilizes every square inch of space for teaching and learning, including spaces that used to be our hallways and even our outside spaces have been used,” she elaborated.

This is further established in the school’s mission statement, which emphasizes a desire to create an environment of “collaborative conversations, laughter, questioning, and sharing support learning, which is facilitated by teachers for individual students through targeted and appropriate instruction.”

Putting aside outdated classrooms, Nota-Masse has said the school will take a new approach to learning that replaces traditional classrooms with open learning spaces that each accommodate about 100 students and between eight and 10 teachers. The goal of this is to create a more collaborative, dynamic and communal learning environment that allows teachers and students to simultaneously evolve the education experience.

The Superintendent wasn’t the only person to express excitement for the newly finished facility. Among the speakers for the evening were City Council President Jessica Marino, Mayor Ken Hopkins, Rhode Island Department of Education Chief Executive Operating Officer Mario Carreño, School Committee Representative Anthony Melillo and Principal of Garden City School, Bryan Byerlee.

“I’ve had the pleasure from day one to see the wrecking ball come in, and on a daily basis I came by and took pictures only because my house is about 100 yards behind the new gymnasium,” Hopkins said. “I hope that all of you can appreciate this magnificent structure, not only the inside of it but the outside. The details of this facility are second to none.

Hopkins said that he knows everyone had to wait patiently to celebrate the grand opening, but he was also jealous of the children that were given the opportunity to attend their first days of school this year at this newly finished school, children such as his granddaughter who entered first grade there this year.

Stepping up to say a few words after the mayor was Council President Marino.

“Hard work and perseverance pays off, and it takes a village,” Marino said, thanking all those who put time and effort into bringing the school to completion. “It really does take everyone’s involvement, and I can say that from first hand experience… I am thrilled to see this happen, but I also am looking forward eagerly to the additional improvements that we’re going to be able to accomplish.”

Of course the speaking portion of the evening wouldn’t have been complete without a few words from the school’s principal, Bryan Byerlee.

“What started as plans on paper then translated into a shell of steel beams has blossomed into a thriving community of learners,” Byerlee said with a nod to the garden themed names of the new school’s learning commons. “In our school teachers and students alike have the opportunity to choose their workspaces based on the design of the lesson and not be restricted by the confines of an outdated space. Students are able to work where they are comfortable and productive, increasing their sense of agency over their own work.”

Once speakers had been given a chance to do what speakers do, everyone in attendance at the ribbon cutting was given the chance to watch as an excited group of young students lined up to hold the ribbon for cutting while Notta-Masse and Byerlee flanked them on each side in front of the hall to the school’s “sprout lane,” a pathway from the cafeteria and open assembly space and several of its learning areas.

The honor of cutting the ribbon fell to Byerlee, which all the children happily agreed to, before Nota-Masse took a minute to segment pieces of the ribbon after the cutting as souvenirs that each of the students involved could take home with them. With Garden City School complete, and its ribbon cut, eyes may turn to Gladstone School with excitement, which had its groundbreaking this summer and will be built with a similar vision in mind.

ribbon, cutting, Garden