Milestone Celebrated in Creation of a New, Net Zero Watertown High School

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The final beam is bolted into place at the new Watertown High School. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

A steel beam, with a small tree on top and an American flag flying from it, was lifted hundreds of feet into the air by a crane and bolted into place marking the topping off of the new Watertown High School project.

The ceremony marked the finish of the construction of the frame for the new school, said Superintendent Dede Galdston, which is going up on the site of the old high school.

“As I stand here before this impressive structure, it is essential to reflect on the journey that brought us to this moment,” Galdston said. “The vision for this new school building was born out of a shared commitment to fostering an environment where our children can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”

Superintendent Dede Galdston addresses the audience at the topping off ceremony for Watertown High School. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

City Council President Mark Sideris, who is chair of the School Building Committee, thanked the School Building Committee, Ai3 Architects, the project management firm — first Compass and now Vertex — general contractor Brait Builders, the City Council, and the School Committee, who he said are “All very important players in this $200 million project.”

He recalled being at the groundbreaking ceremony in November, and was pleased with the progress.

“It is a great testament to the hard work that everyone has been putting in to do this. It is also a great note to the taxpayers, we are able to do this without an override and make history by being the first net zero, LEED Platinum high school in the country,” Sideris said. “Thank you to everyone. I am looking forward to seeing you all at the grand opening in a very short few months.”

The school is scheduled to open in 2026.

The last beam wass signed by Watertown High School Principal Giacobozzi minutes before it was installed on the structure for the new WHS. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

Watertown High School Principal Joel Giacobozzi said he was happy that the high school staff was involved in the planning and decision making for the new school. He also acknowledged that the current students have had to spend this year, and the next two, in a temporary high school at Private Richard Moxley Field.

“On behalf of our students, we know this is inconvenient, that we took up a field, and we are sometimes blocking the street, but we know it is going to last for a really long time, and it is a revolutionary building and it is what our students deserve,” Giacobozzi said. “Thank you very much. Go Raiders!”

Steel workers put the final beam into place at the new Watertown High School on Wednesday. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

The Watertown Public Schools administrative offices sit across Common Street from the construction site, and Galdston said that they have felt when every footing was pounded and poured, and watched the steel structure taking shape.

The final beam has the flag, as well as a pine tree on top. Mike Webber, the steel foreman on the project, said that the tree is a tradition borrowed from Native Americans that symbolizes a finished job. He added that many hours and much sweat has been put into getting to this point.

“It’s a lot of hard work, so everyone is thanking the City Council, and (project management firm) Vertex and everybody, but there are a lot of other people out here putting it up — 10, 11 hour days, not going home some nights (and) seeing their families, spending a lot of time away from home,” Webber said. “It’s a lot of work that goes into it. These guys here work really hard.”

Before the final beam was lifted into place, Galdston said that the school will be more than just a building.

“It is a symbol of our community’s dedication to education and to progress,” she said. “Together we are building not just a school, but a brighter future for all.” 

After the final beam at Watertown High School was put into place, people involved in the project captured the moment. From left, steel foreman Mike Webber, WHS Principal Joel Giacobozzi, Schools Director of Finance and Operations Lisa Gibbons, School Building Committee member Paul Anastasi, Superintendent Dede Galdston, School Committee member Kendra Foley, City Council President Mark Sideris, School Committee member Jessica Middlebrook, School Building Committee member Lindsay Mosca, and City Council Vice Chair Vincent Piccirilli. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

2 thoughts on “Milestone Celebrated in Creation of a New, Net Zero Watertown High School

  1. Nearly every article celebrating Watertown’s new “net zero, LED Platinum high school” in the country fails to mention that the original interest in the energy-saving status of this building originated with a small group of dedicated residents. The end result came from the vision and persistence of ordinary citizens. They put continued pressure on our city officials to come up with the result that has now come about, after many years of grassroots pressure. I just want to thank those citizens who had a critical vision, over a decade ago, that they pursued for the rest of us.

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