At the reopening ceremony of West Broadway Middle School, city officials used the occasion to teach a lesson about perseverance and what can be accomplished when a community works together.
Principal William Black welcomed the audience to “a very exciting day” and proudly announced that the school has a 96 percent attendance rate for the first quarter of the school year, one of the highest in the district. “Our students want to come to school and they feel supported by their teachers,” he said.
Councilman Bryan Principe, a strong advocate and partner in the reopening of the school within his ward, told the students, teachers, parents and Providence Schools administrators gathered in the auditorium that perseverance helped to reopen West Broadway.
“You all persevere each and every day because you have one of the highest attendance rates in our entire district,” he said. “This school has been a long time in the making because the neighborhood persevered.”
To surprise the crowd, Principe took off his coat to reveal a T-shirt that said, “Warriors always persevere.” Warriors are the mascot chosen by West Broadway students.
Honor roll students who earned all A’s and B’s in the first quarter of this year were in the audience.
West Broadway, located in the city’s West End, closed in 2007 as an elementary school. An unexpected surge in middle school enrollment compelled the Providence Public School District to search for space to accommodate more than 500 middle school students over the next three years.
At the December 9, 2013 School Board meeting, the board voted to reopen the former elementary school. This was considered the most prudent option within a tight timeframe. West Broadway’s capacity of 525 students will help meet the district’s projected needs over the coming years and offers the opportunity to create a K-8 complex in the West End neighborhood when paired with Asa Messer Elementary School, located one block away.
The West Broadway Neighborhood Association supported the school’s reopening as part of the neighborhood’s revitalization.
Mayor Angel Taveras, who presented the school with a citation honoring the reopening, congratulated and thanked the teachers for their work in quickly creating a school community and recognized the West Broadway Neighborhood Association for helping to reopen the school.
“It is important for this neighborhood to have an elementary and a middle school,” said Taveras. “West Broadway is one of the best neighborhood associations we have. A lot of what you see is the work they have done and how they came together as a community. We are all trying to make our community better and when we come together, there is nothing we can’t do.”
School Board President Keith Oliveira said it was a blessing to be a part of the school’s reopening and creating a K-8 complex in the West Broadway area.
He congratulated the students on their high attendance rate which showed “an incredible level of commitment, demonstrates your hard work and love of (your) school. I congratulate you and look forward to supporting you.”
Supt. Dr. Susan Lusi noted that when she returned to the district as interim superintendent three years ago, the mayor indicated how great it would be to reopen West Broadway.
“What is exciting, what makes this a great school is the support of the community, an awesome principal, filling the school with the most fabulous teachers and staff you can find anywhere and students who are great learners,” Lusi said.
“This will continue to be a fabulous school if you continue to be great leaders,” she told the students. She encouraged them to be role models for incoming students and double the number of students on the Honor Roll. “You show them how it’s done,” Lusi said.
Fifth-grader Justin Lopez spoke of the family feeling at West Broadway and his wonderful teachers who encourage him to work hard. He also said he is “being kind and making great friends.”
Sam Mercedes, a sixth-grader, spoke of his caring teachers. “I am learning new things. Our teachers help us a lot by teaching us new and important things for our future. It makes me feel like I am part of a family and that I can be successful.”
West Broadway currently has about 270 students and will add a grade each year until the school reaches a full complement of fifth through eighth grades. The Asa Messer rising fifth grade moved over to the school as a group at the beginning of this school year and rising sixth graders were given the option to attend West Broadway for middle school. Remaining spots were filled by lottery.