The public K-8 school in my neighborhood, closed for renovations for the past two-plus years, reopened on Thursday morning. The kids, who had been riding buses to and from a temporary location, were glad to be walking or biking to school again. Students and parents wandered excitedly through the halls, trying to take in the full scope of the transformation: new wing, new floor, new library and gym and cafeteria and playgrounds, a radically revised layout that made for many excellent new ways to get from here to there. Even the parts that hadn’t been rebuilt from scratch looked and smelled different — fresh, upgraded, somehow more important than they used to be.
The teachers looked happy and relieved to be back where they belonged. The superintendent looked even more relieved. The renovation had taken longer, cost more, and caused more contention than expected. A spectacularly crabby abutter from central casting hadn’t helped. But now everyone was exclaiming proudly over the lovely swan of a school building that had miraculously emerged from a 1960s-era ugly duckling. The design and execution of the renovation had been creative, even inspired.