Bridgehampton School Celebrates Community, New Addition

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Bridgehampton School Board President Ron White, at far right, is joined by Superintendent Dr. Mary Kelly and other board members as they cut the ribbon to officially open the new addition to the Bridgehampton School during the first annual Bridgehampton Community Day that was held behind the Bridgehampton School on Saturday. MICHAEL HELLER

A throng of children, parents, teachers, and curious community members descended on the back field of the Bridgehampton School on Saturday, October 16, to celebrate the start of the new school year and the completion of the district’s major $29 million expansion project.

While Principal Michael Miller and other staffers offered tours of the recently opened addition, which includes a half-dozen new classrooms, a regulation-sized gymnasium, lunch room, auditorium, and library, children occupied themselves on a bounce castle or waiting to give athletic director Michael DeRosa a cold bath in the dunking tank.

The school’s marimba band serenaded guests, while chickens pecked at the ground in the school garden.

Bridgehampton School Athletic Director Michael DeRosa gets dunked by a student during the first annual Bridgehampton Community Day that was held behind the Bridgehampton School on Saturday, 10/16/21
Bridgehampton School Athletic Director Michael DeRosa gives a thumbs-up after being dunked by a student during the first annual Bridgehampton Community Day that was held behind the Bridgehampton School on Saturday, 10/16/21
Bridgehampton School Board President Ron White helps serve food during the first annual Bridgehampton Community Day that was held behind the Bridgehampton School on Saturday, 10/16/21

Board members gathered around a large yellow ribbon behind the gymnasium to ceremonially cut the ribbon to mark the completion of the building.

School Superintendent Dr. Mary Kelly read a short letter from former superintendent Dr. Lois Favre, who was unable to attend Saturday’s event.

“This day is one that many have been hoping would come to fruition for a long time,” Favre’s note read. “It’s thanks to the persistence of your Board of Education and the generosity of the larger Bridgehampton community that you have finally arrived — to a building that is worthy of all of you who work so hard to make Bridgehampton a very special place: staff, students, and families.”

Kelly, who took over for Robert Hauser as superintendent earlier this year, said Bridgehampton had so far surpassed her expectations.

“It’s like a family, it’s such a close-knit community,” she said.

Michael Byrne, who has been an elementary school teacher at the school since 1989, arrived shortly after a divisive period, when there was an effort to close the high school was dying down, but he said despite the challenges, the school had always retained its welcoming attitude.

He said his daughter had attended summer school in Bridgehampton. “She has the most diverse group of friends of anyone I know,” he said, “and I think that’s from being around Bridgehampton. That’s the beauty of the place.”

For years, teachers and students alike have made do with small classrooms and modular buildings scattered around the campus. The school’s undersized gym, known as “The Hive,” helped the school’s basketball team attain near legendary status, but locker rooms were lacking, technology classes were in a basement room, and music classes were conducted in an old modular building that had long outlasted its projected lifespan.

“Bridgehampton has moved into the 21st century,” one teacher told a group that visited her classroom during the tour. The tours also apparently opened some eyes. Board member Kathleen McCleland said one community member, who had attended the school years ago, came out of his tour impressed by the new facilities and admitting that he thought the project had only involved the construction of a new gym.

While some punch-list items remain — for example, a computer board needed to control the lights in the auditorium remains on back order — the new rooms have been opened this year, while the old modular buildings have been razed and replaced with parking.

Saturday’s event, which was underwritten by the Pure Property Group, was billed by the school as the first of what will be an annual get-together, replacing a the more informal back-to-school picnic, which was held on the school grounds before “Back to School Night” every September.

School Board President Ron White said Andrew Dawkins of Pure Property Group, a property management, real estate and capital improvements company, had approached him about doing something to help out the district and he had suggested the Community Day celebration.

White, who helped serve lunch, called the turnout “outstanding,” and said he looked forward to future events to bring the community together.

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