New EPHS opens to rave reviews

All students will report on Thursday, Sept. 9

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/7/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — Impeccable…imposing…incredible, most any approving adjective could be used to describe the new East Providence High School as it opened last week with freshmen …

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New EPHS opens to rave reviews

All students will report on Thursday, Sept. 9

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Impeccable…imposing…incredible, most any approving adjective could be used to describe the new East Providence High School as it opened last week with freshmen and seniors being the first to enter its doors.

The main two components of the $189.5 million project — the school proper and the athletics stadium — were revealed to students and staff in recent days, receiving glowing early reviews.

“It’s been magnificent,” said EPHS principal Toby Gibbons late last week as he embarked on his second term as the building’s lead administrator.

“And the reason why I use that word is because the building comes alive now that we have the students in it,” Mr. Gibbons continued. “The first two days have been excellent. The teachers have welcomed the students in. Put it this way, today was better than yesterday, we’re all getting used to the surroundings.”

Freshmen were the first to converge on the new EPHS Thursday, Sept. 2. As expected they started with the usual amount of uncertainty, though, also as is often the case, they finished feeling much more comfortable.

“We had the ninth graders the first day, like every ninth grade class, they were nervous, they were anxious, but by the end of the day there were smiles ear to ear,” Mr. Gibbons said.

For the first few days at least, staff are being positioned in the hallways, directing students to their proper locations. Rooms on each of the four floors begin with the associated number, Mr. Gibbons saying it was designed purposely to help students “learn” the building.

He noted as well, the new EPHS remains an “active construction site” for the better part of the 2021-22 term both inside and out as the old building is demolished while crews remain in the new structure at night adding all the “finishing touches and tweaks” needed once the building actually became operational as a place of learning.

The staff, which only gained access to the new EPHS on August 30, was anticipating a full, and fully functioning, building this week after juniors gained their first glimpse followed by sophomores. All approximately 1,650 students were set to be in the new EPHS initially on Thursday, Sept. 9.

“The seniors’ feedback was that they were so thankful they came in by themselves because everything is new and I expect all of the classes will feel that way,” said Mr. Gibbons.

He added, “In a perfect world the staff and I would have been in here a week before, but we weren’t, so we’re dealing with it. And the staff has been unbelievable, knowing it’s not perfect yet. It’s 95, 96 percent perfect, but we’re not all the way there yet.

“Again, today was better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today. And that’s OK. We’ll get to where we need to be.”

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.