fb-pixel Skip to main content

A new Somerville High School opens to a limited number of students

The new Somerville High School opened to its youngest students for in-person learning Thursday.The City of Somerville

After nearly a decade of planning and three years of construction, a new Somerville High School opened to its first wave of students Thursday as part of the school district’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

New science labs, space for tech learning programs, a college-style lecture hall, and a rebuilt gymnasium are among the features of the $257 million project that remade the 19th century building on Highland Avenue into a shining new campus.

In 2016, Somerville voters approved the city’s first-ever Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion, a temporary tax increase to pay for the city’s share of one of the priciest school construction projects in state history.


The tax increase covered $130 million of the city’s $137 million share of the cost, and the city received $120 million from the Massachusetts School Building Authority to pay for the rest, according to past Globe articles.

The six-story building on Central Hill had been scheduled to open to all students this school year. But the pandemic upended that plan. Only younger and high-needs students were able to return to the school on Thursday, city officials said in a press release.

Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone called the limited opening “bittersweet.”

“We are so excited for our students who will learn here over the years,” he said. “We had imagined we would open up this building to our high school students. But the pandemic has robbed us of that as it has robbed us of so much.”

School Superintendent Mary Skipper also acknowledged the district had envisioned a different opening celebration for the new school.

“Unfortunately, like so many things over the course of the last 12 months, COVID has necessitated a different approach,” Skipper said in the release.

She said they are looking into new ways high school students, especially the senior class, can access the new facility.


The school, which is capable of serving 1,515 students, is a blend of old and new. The original 1895 building was preserved along with the front of the 1929 Warm Memorial building. More than 200 items from the old school, including archways and furniture, have been incorporated into the new facility, the release said.

Along with the newest technology and learning tools, the building features space for outdoor learning and dining. It also features a student-run restaurant, hair salon, and auto repair bays, the release said.

The school’s auditorium and cosmetology lab are anticipated to open later this spring. The athletic field is expected to be completed in spring 2022. Additionally, the building will serve as a gathering space for residents. Its lecture hall and auditorium can host community meetings or events for up to 850 people collectively, according to the release.

“This is an incredible milestone for our entire community, one that we have all been anxiously awaiting,” School Committee Chairperson Andre Green said. “This project speaks to the commitment of the Somerville community to our kids and their future.”