Students, staff and school, local, school and state leaders participated in this morning's dedication.
In the fall of 2010, two weeks before classes started, the Sharon Middle School "looked like the surface of the moon," Principal Kevin O'Rourke noted today.
This morning, outside the Mountain Street school's entrance, students, staff, and school, local and state leaders were on cloud nine.
This morning's ribbon-cutting using special "big and fancy" scissors officially dedicated the Sharon Middle School-Early Childhood Center, "just under two years ago, by a couple of days," O'Rourke recalled, since the groundbreaking for the $47 million renovation and addition project.
"A lot has happened since then, but we are very thrilled to be in our new building," the principal said.
The dedication began outside the school entrance, where SMS students performed music and read a poem.
SMS' six eighth-graders who were nominated for Massachusetts' Project 351 youth leadership and community service program this winter participated in the ribbon cutting.
School, local and state leaders, as well as a number of present and retired staff members, then gathered for presentations in the school library.
"We're in a great looking room, and hopefully, a great room for learning," Standing Building Committee Chairman Gordon Gladstone said.
Sharon began pursuing the project in 2003, but the effort was "put on hiatus shortly thereafter when the state funding disappeared," he said. The project was revised in 2009, he said.
The state paid for nearly $21 million, of the project, which cost $47 million, including prior costs, he said.
"Securing approval was frantic, hectic at times, but ultimately successful, as we were one of the first projects to be approved," Gladstone said.
Construction started shortly after school ended in the summer of 2010, he recalled.
"Often during the ensuing 23 months, there were more than 150 tradespeople working here on any given day," Gladstone said.
"The result of all that activity is what you see today. This is a materially different school in appearance and feeling."
State Treasurer Steve Grossman called the project the "realization of a lot of hopes and dreams."
MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy noted that Sharon's base reimbursement rate was nearly 45 percent. Incentives for maintenance and other categories increased the rate to nearly 53 percent.
The Sharon project was "an ideal project for us," McCarthy said.
"It went well. It did what we like to do: we like to re-use buildings, and we like to have green buildings, and you guys did a wonderful job."
Speakers today credited numerous people for their roles on the project, including district Director of Maintenance and Operations Ken Wertz, former school committee member Glenn Allen and former superintendent Barbara Dunham.
O'Rourke, Assistant Principal Jackie Mann and others then led tours.