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Alumna plans all-student reunion for closed Tyngsboro school

April 9, 2018

TYNGSBORO, Mass. (AP) — Ashley Makevich wants to hold a school reunion in Tyngsboro. But this wouldn’t be a gathering for just one class to reminisce on their younger days. Makevich, a Tyngsboro High School history teacher, envisions a reunion for those who attended the Winslow School — like her.

As the fate of the aging former school at 250 Middlesex Road still hangs over the town of Tyngsboro, Makevich is leading the Historical Commission’s efforts to plan a Winslow School reunion later this year, or perhaps even next year. Makevich, 34, is still in the very early stages of organizing the event. The first organizational meeting for the reunion will be held at 6 p.m. on April 24 at the Littlefield Library, 252 Middlesex Road.

Last Wednesday afternoon, Makevich brought a box of family mementos with her to the Littlefield Library, right by the Winslow School, which closed in 2002. The teacher and her parents, Marlene and Tom Makevich, and both sets of her grandparents, attended the Winslow School. Makevich pulled out the ring her mother received upon graduation from the Winslow School and a yellowed photo of her late paternal grandfather, Walter Makevich, in a sea of peers.

“We’re hoping that this at least generates interest in the building — that people can come together and recognize the need to save it, right? Because I think most people do,” Makevich said. “And then also, at least it’s kind of this one last chance for us all to come together and remember the Winslow School.

In its early years, the Winslow School served students in grades 1-8, and later housed elementary grades.

A few months ago, word spread that the former school was the subject of a request for interest put out by the town for its potential rehabilitation, conversion, use/or redevelopment. Tyngsboro received four responses, the ideas of which were: office space or housing; a joint development of a cultural center with family residential housing; renovation of existing property into residential, market rate condominiums; and the conversion of the former school’s old tennis court into additional public town parking. Residents also had plenty to say on social media about what they felt is the best approach for the building.

In an email last Wednesday to a Sun reporter, Assistant Town Administrator Justin Sultzbach said a Hazardous Materials Report came in in late February and that town staff can now use the information provided to safely locate, remove and dispose of the materials from the building.

“Regardless of what determination is made regarding the fate of the Winslow School, those materials will need to be removed. We did have funding set aside for that purpose,” he wrote. “The Capital Asset Management Committee recommended a Capital Improvement Plan to the Board of Selectmen on Monday, March 26th that earmarked $120,000 for the removal of hazardous materials at the Winslow School.

Sultzbach said the town is also looking at the structural integrity of the building and has enlisted the help of CBI Consulting, a Boston-based engineering and design firm.

“The work has not yet started, but we are expecting the results of this study by the end of May,” he wrote. “This report is just one more piece of a much larger puzzle. But with each new piece comes some clarity regarding a direction forward.”

Tyngsboro officials on March 11 offered a rare, private glimpse into the vacant (and vandalized) building.

“When you actually talk to people in the field of construction, the school is solid,” she said. “And in fact, a lot of the deterioration is actually recent because students stopped going to the Winslow School just in 2002. ... it was an active school far longer than it was vacant.”

Ask Makevich what her fondest memories are of the Winslow School and a nostalgic smile will spread on her face. Last week she recalled the field days and how lunches would be delivered to students. She also remembered pony rides in the field out back.

“It was small, and that’s what I remember too,” she said. “It was small enough that you had access to everyone. You just felt close and, because it was a small school, you felt close to everyone and I think that’s what was so special.”

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Online: https://bit.ly/2qggTdA

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Information from: The (Lowell, Mass.) Sun, http://www.lowellsun.com

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