Students’ first glimpse of new Allenstown school draws awe

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets student Devonte Riveria at the school gymnasium of the Allenstown Community School on Thursday.

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets student Devonte Riveria at the school gymnasium of the Allenstown Community School on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger looks out a new classroom window of the new Allenstown Community School  on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the school to get a greeting and a tour of the new facility.

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger looks out a new classroom window of the new Allenstown Community School  on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the school to get a greeting and a tour of the new facility. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Allenstown students enter the new school on Thursday morning, April 18. A group of students came to the school to get a greeting and a tour of the new facility.

Allenstown students enter the new school on Thursday morning, April 18. A group of students came to the school to get a greeting and a tour of the new facility. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets students to the school gymnasium on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the Allenstown Community School to get a greeting and a tour of the new facility.

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets students to the school gymnasium on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the Allenstown Community School to get a greeting and a tour of the new facility. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets students to the school gymnasium on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the Allenstown Community School for a greeting and a tour of the new facility.

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets students to the school gymnasium on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the Allenstown Community School for a greeting and a tour of the new facility. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Allenstown student Gavan Foskitt (right) shoots a basketball in the new gymnasium as part of the tour of the new Allenstown Community School on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024.

Allenstown student Gavan Foskitt (right) shoots a basketball in the new gymnasium as part of the tour of the new Allenstown Community School on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets looks up at the painting of the school mascot on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the Allenstown Community School for a greeting and a tour of the new facility.

Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger greets looks up at the painting of the school mascot on Thursday morning, April 18, 2024. A group of students came to the Allenstown Community School for a greeting and a tour of the new facility. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The electronic sign of the new Allenstown Community School.

The electronic sign of the new Allenstown Community School. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Mike Mattozzi of Tri-State Striping puts tape down for the lines for the basketball court at the Allenstown Community School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Mike Mattozzi of Tri-State Striping puts tape down for the lines for the basketball court at the Allenstown Community School on Thursday, April 18, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By JEREMY MARGOLIS

Monitor staff

Published: 04-18-2024 2:53 PM

Modified: 04-19-2024 3:37 PM


Jaws dropped and cheers erupted as Allenstown students entered their new school building for the first time Thursday morning.

“Yo, this looks like a mall,” said an eighth grade boy in a Bruins shirt. 

“Smell that new school smell,” observed another.

“We have vending machines,” exclaimed more than a few more.

Nineteen months after breaking ground on a new 83,000-square-foot building at 171 River Road, the Allenstown Community School is set to open on May 3, following an extended spring break.

The two-story building across from a chicken farm and a six-minute drive from Allentown’s town center has been in the works since a feasibility study was completed in 2019. The project cost $33 million, about 60% of which was paid for through state aid.

The school will house all 335 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Currently, students up to grade four attend Allenstown Elementary while fifth through eighth grade go to the Armand R. Dupont School. Allenstown high schoolers attend Pembroke Academy.

The elementary and middle school buildings – built in the 1960s and 70s – have been beset with maintenance and overcrowding issues for years, said Allenstown principal Shannon Kruger.

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A month and a half ago, a blocked pipe caused the middle school’s cafeteria to flood. HVAC issues have forced Kruger to close school at various points.

At the elementary school, the cafeteria is in the gym, which limits when physical education classes can take place and when students can eat. 

Excitement surrounding the new building was palpable as three busloads of fifth through eighth graders arrived around 10:40 a.m. Thursday for a tour.

The students and their teachers filed into the school’s glistening gym and sat by grade level on its green bleachers – an amenity, Kruger reminded them, their old gym does not have.

 “I don’t get emotional very often, but I’m a little emotional right now,” Kruger said, before announcing that she had a surprise.

“Because our eighth graders will never get to play on this court, I’m going to give them that opportunity right now,” Kruger said.

She called up each of the eighth-grade basketball players by name to christen the gym’s six hoops with its first shots. 

Then the tours began.

The library and art room on the first floor drew rave reviews from seventh graders.

“I don’t know why there’s a couch here, but I’m definitely sitting on it,” said Aidan, as he led a procession to a massive sectional in the corner of the library.

Digital clocks on screens at the front of each classroom were also a hit. Kruger explained that they would allow administrators to make targeted communications during the school day – though she cautioned it would take her some time to learn how to operate them.

On the second floor, students toured what will become the new family and consumer science classroom next year. The room – outfitted with three kitchen areas – will allow for new opportunities.

Though both students and staff appeared universally excited by the move to the new building, perhaps no one was as thrilled as school nurse Alexis Chinn. As the only nurse for both the elementary and middle schools, she often drives between the two several times a day.

“I’m ready for tomorrow to be my last day” of that, said Chinn, who will work out of a multi-room nurses suite in the new building.

Combining the middle and elementary school will also come with other benefits.

“Probably one of the most exciting parts about being in one building is really being able to take advantage of those cross-grade level opportunities for collaboration,” Kruger said.

School leaders elected to make the move now as opposed to waiting until next fall because the building was ready and the last several weeks of the year would provide a good trial run.

“Anytime you make a monumental change, there are things that you’re going to have to re-calibrate,” Kruger said.

A portion of the furniture is already in place. The rest will be moved over next week’s April break, and staff will return two days before students to set up their classrooms, Kruger said.

community open house and ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for the first day in the new school.