Nichols herself went to Bancroft as a child. It’s where she met her husband, back in the 1970s, before the two had established careers in town.
Her husband, Dave Nichols, eventually became the Andover School District’s athletic director before retiring five years ago.
But for Debra Nichols, the 44-year-old Bancroft School has always felt like home, she said.
“The physical plant is so different than any other building,” she said. “It really encourages people to collaborate. It encourages cross-grade experiences.”
Roxanne Siff started teaching third grade at Bancroft in 1992. Now 21 years later, she still remembers the first impression the castle-like building had on her.
“I remember driving up here as a new teacher, thinking, ‘This is the school I’m teaching at?’” she said. “I’ve never seen a school that looked like this before.”
Forsman, who started at Bancroft last year, said a similar level of shock hit him when he walked into the school for the first time.
“Anyone who comes in here says, ‘How does education happen in this school?’” Forsman said. “I have to admit, I had some of those thoughts and some of those feelings, but everyone adjusts to their environment, and people have really adjusted well.”
Come June, when the school year ends and students begin their summer vacation, work will begin to move the school faculty and materials to the new building, School Building Committee Chairman Tom Deso said.
The new 680-student school will feature some familiar hallmarks of the original Bancroft. The walkway at the school entrance will still be in place and many classrooms will still have that open feel, even if they will be separated by glass walls, Forsman said.
There are already early conversations taking place about what teachers will be able to take from the old school to their new home.