Metro

‘A space that is worthy of them’: Brooke High School opens new building in Mattapan

Students stopped at their lockers at the new Brooke High School and Eighth Grade Academy.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
Students stopped at their lockers at the new Brooke High School and Eighth Grade Academy.

Students, educators, and local officials on Friday celebrated the formal opening of the new $41 million Brooke High School and Eighth Grade Academy in Mattapan.

The school, which was completed in August, eventually will house up to 600 high school students and 180 eighth-graders from Boston and Chelsea. The 90,000 square-foot facility on American Legion Highway teems with natural light and offers modern classrooms, science and computer labs, a robotics space, and arts studios.

“[This building] means that our students can now come to school each day to learn and achieve in a space that is worthy of them,” said Jon Clark, co-director of Brooke Charter Schools.

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Students in the Brooke schools network have attained top scores on state tests in recent years. About 93 percent of the student body is black or Hispanic.

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State Representative Russell Holmes, who lives in Mattapan, said he believes the Brooke is the “shining star” of the neighborhood.

“When you think about the opportunities that surround the neighborhood, some of them don’t begin with us being number one,” Holmes said. “Some of them began because we started at the bottom. Now, we’ve got 10 to 15 years of effort that makes it so the number one school in the state is right here in my district.”

Students from all current Brooke K-8 schools — Mattapan, Roslindale, and East Boston — are guaranteed a spot at the new high school. Brooke High School, added to the network in 2016, most recently operated in Dorchester.

In the new building, each of the 38 classrooms and science and computer labs are named after colleges or universities, with a goal of inspiring students.

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Near the entrance, the collaborative robotics space features automated and manual technology, where students spend their after-school hours building robots for competitions.

“They go to competitions, and teams don’t look like them,” said Brooke spokeswoman Kate Wright Apfelbaum. “But now, they have this amazing space and they can go into those competitions feeling incredibly confident in their skills.”

Jon Clark, co-director of Brooke Charter Schools, tried to organize the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new school.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
Jon Clark, co-director of Brooke Charter Schools, tried to organize the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new school.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh praised the new building’s robotics and lab spaces, saying they correspond with the state’s push to bolster education in science, technology, engineering, and math.

“This is a 21st century school, clearly designed for success,” Walsh told attendees at the ribbon cutting.

Students will use 650-seat gymnasium for after-school sports, a four-year requirement for grades nine through 12.

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The building was designed by Arrowstreet. About $9 million came from private donors, and the rest from public and private loans.

City Council president Andrea Campbell, whose district includes Mattapan, commended the community effort it took to develop and build the school. She said it’s not just the building that leads Brooke students to success, but the dedicated people inside.

“We’re not going to eradicate poverty overnight; we’re not going to close the achievement gap overnight,” Campbell said. “This is a place where students and families can think, can dream big, can see the possibilities for themselves.”

Dailin Morfa, a junior at Brooke High School, said high expectations at Brooke helped her grow as a student and as a person.

“Before we had this beautiful building, we moved around a lot,” said Morfa, who aspires to become a criminal defense attorney. “But something that stayed the same was the community we built within.”

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Morgan Hughes can be reached at morgan.hughes@globe.com.