The Wolf School breaks ground on $750,000 addition

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Wearing hard hats and clutching shiny, gold shovels, leaders of the private Wolf School in Rumford, R.I., symbolically broke ground on a major expansion project Monday morning.

Beginning in about a week, construction crews will really break ground, to renovate two existing rooms and construct two new rooms, adding 2,400 square feet in classroom space to the K-8 school for complex learners. All of the construction is taking place in the interior of the existing footprint, so the school is not expanding its footprint outwardly in any direction.

Work should start next week and finish before school resumes in September.

Wolf students, all of whom attended or took part in Monday's ceremony, are most excited to be getting a library. Two years ago, the school moved to a library-on-a-cart when it was forced to convert its library into a regular classroom. When Head of School Anna Johnson called upon the students to talk about what they're most excited for, "library" was their top choice.

With 61 students this school year, Wolf has the highest enrollment in its 17-year history.

This summer's expansion project is a fast-moving endeavor. As Ms. Johnson told the crowd of students, faculty, parents, donors and East Providence city officials, school leaders started talking about the project in January, and within five months, they pushed from concept to drawings, to fund-raising, to permits, to bids and finally to breaking ground.

When completed, the project will creat a new classroom, new library, new faculty resource room, and a new parent/community resource room, in addition to an outdoor Sensory Courtyard.

The entire project is being funded by private donors, including a core group of Leadership Donors who made major contributions — Al and Gerrie Verrecchia, Leslie and Bryan Lorber, Mark and Katherine Pelson, Andy Wallerstein and Mary Sloane, Bequest from the Estate of Helen Sloane, Albert Benmayor, The Reardon Family, James and Tamara McKenney, Rebecca Tayler, and three anonymous donors.

In addition, more than 150 people made small donations ranging from $20 to $5,000, in a crowdfunding campaign that netted $34,395 at last count.

The Wolf School features a highly customized curriculum for students with multiple learning challenges, delivered in small classes of 4 to 10 students.

The general contractor is Chapel Construction Corp. of East Providence. Architect is Imai Keller Moore Architects.

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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.