Large crowd welcomes Lighthouse Charter School to Harwich

An impressive beginning as a charter middle school moves to a new town


Associate Director Joanne Amaru leads the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School's Select Chorus.

New director, new location, new building, a new beginning

By Walter Brooks

Founding teacher and new school director Paul Niles set the tone with his first words, "Our school is about all of us - working together," and he went on to pile praise on the "exemplary support" the school has received from its staff, parents and students. Read Paul's complete remarks beneath the montage below.

There were over a hundred well-wishers at the groundbreaking at the site of the former Regal Cinema on Route 137 in East Harwich at 1:45 p.m. this afternoon.

The montage below catches a bit of the fervor at today's event as, from upper left clockwise, Director Paul Niles welcomes the crowd, Josh Stewart climbs on the roof to takes photos, the "Huzzahs" were ubiquitous, the backpacks were piled on the side and the scene from the highway. CapeCodToday video and photos.

Paul Niles' groundbreaking speech:

17 years ago John Stewart, Barbara Haines, Marion Lay and I walked into the cave-like space at Bayberry Plaza in Orleans and said, “This ought to work for a year or two until we find something better."

Our projection would have been perfectly accurate if we lived on Jupiter, where one trip around the sun takes 12 years. At CCLCS, students learn that hard work and patience pay off. Sometimes the payoff comes quickly and sometimes the payoff takes years and years.

Whose hard work has brought us to this great moment in the history of our school? First I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our students, both those in front of us today and those who have been ignited with a love of learning in the undersized warrens at the underground mall for these last 16 1/2 years.

It is through your hard work that our school has developed its reputation as a leader in middle school education on Cape Cod and beyond. Without this firm record of accomplishment, we would not be standing here today.

Next I would like to thank the parents of our students. You serve as our sturdy partners as we dare to treat your children as intellectual beings, as we dare to teach to the whole child in this era of educational homogenization. You serve as our steady stream of volunteers as we tackle a thousand logistical challenges every day. Without your steady stream of support, we would have little to celebrate today.

My deepest thanks extend out to the extraordinary school staff that stand before us today. As a public charter school in Massachusetts, we are forced to do more with less money than the traditional public schools. It is through the dedication, talent, blood, sweat and tears of this remarkable group that we are able to deliver the finest middle school education this side of Jupiter. Without your incredible work ethic and willingness to do whatever it takes, the caves of the underground mall would have long ago crumbled upon us.

Next I would like to thank generations of CCLCS Board of Trustees and Foundation members for slogging through the years of fits and starts, of promising leads, of fundraising initiatives, of meeting after meeting after meeting, all on a volunteer basis. Without your unflagging expertise and support, we would surely not be celebrating today.

But the Lighthouse Public Charter School is not about any of these groups in isolation. Our school is about US. A community working together to make us better people, to makes ours a stronger community and to make ours a better planet.

I am especially excited at the opportunities available to us to expand our community. Not by taking in more students, but by integrating into the fabric of a new town and a new host district. Let’s work together to see if we can expand this dream that is taking shape behind us. Let’s work together to explore where our school’s needs and dreams intersect with the community’s goals.

Beyond the bricks and mortar behind us is a 9 acre palette with only the boldest brush strokes filled in. Let’s work together to create a dynamic work of performance art, a vibrant educational community that stokes the fires of learning for generations to come.

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