Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 1, 2014

In the home stretch

New Bancroft Elementary School nears completion

By Dustin Luca
Staff Writer

---- — Work is charging forward on the new Bancroft Elementary School, with construction close to wrapping up and the move from the old to the new already in progress.

The school construction project is slightly ahead of schedule of its original May 22 completion date, with the interior work set to end during the first half of this month, School Building Committee Chairman Tom Deso said last month.

Already, many of the things that will be part of the move have begun their migration.

Teaching materials that are being retired for the year are being boxed up and tucked away inside a trailer.

The massive doors leading from the current school’s central media center were transferred to the new building at the end of March, Deso said. The doors won’t actually be installed in the new Bancroft, but rather hung inside the media center as a memorial to the original school, he said.

Other artifacts and awards — including the cherished bell in the bell tower — are also being removed from the current Bancroft in advance of the wrecking ball’s arrival.

“A lot of things in the building now, plaques and dedications, those will be in,” Deso said. “The other major artifact is the bell in the bell tower of the old school. It’s going to be removed and installed on a pedestal in the new school.”

However, one aspect of the original Bancroft that will not survive is the beloved mural inside the school’s front entrance. The mural was created as a memorial to Yogan Patel, a former Bancroft student who died from cancer.

Dragon’s Lair 2000, a playground at the school also dedicated to Patel, had to be destroyed early in construction given its location within the footprint of the new school.

While there was some discussion early on regarding potentially saving the mural, Deso said it can’t be physically moved because it’s painted on the wall.

Instead, building committee members will see that it’s preserved in photographs for possible display in some form at the new Bancroft.

Once the school year ends in June, the fence will come down and crews will prepare the site for demolition, Deso said. Public access to the site will then transition to Bancroft Road, with work crews using the newly extended West Knoll Road.

The mound of dirt in front of the Bancroft property will be used to fill in the void once the old school is torn down.

While the new school will await students and teachers in the fall, construction on the two playgrounds, soccer field and other outdoor facilities will continue through October, Deso said.

One aspect that remained undecided last month was how the traffic pattern would look once the site work was completed, Deso said. One option being considered involved directing incoming traffic onto Bancroft Road while funneling outgoing traffic onto West Knoll Road.

It’s also not yet known whether a public tour will be held before school opens, Deso said.

But regardless, by the end of October, the new Bancroft should be fully operational, Deso said,

“By Halloween basically, that site should be totally an operating school, without any contractor,” he said.