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The Highlands School opened on September 5, 1956 having been delayed from its original target date of February 1, 1956. The total cost of the facility was slightly over $350,000.

The structure had a modern layout with the latest in styled classrooms rubber tiled, floors, fluorescent lighting and moveable desks and chairs. The staff welcomed 309 students on opening day.

In a 10 classroom building, there were pupils in 11 classes, which included one resource room. Class size ranged from 19 to 36. The cafeteria was used by a sixth grade class, and grades 4,5 and 6 ate their hot lunches there. Grades 1_3 carried their lunch trays to their rooms. The principal and secretary shared an office. The nurse used the work room or the principal’s office. The speech therapist, serving 20 children, used the work room, storage room, supply room (too hot for long use), or the teachers room. The teachers room was also used by the principal at times for private conferences.

The remedial reading teacher and the coaching teacher, servicing 38 children each, alternated using what was to have been the secretary’s office. Instrumental music (15 children) and group music lessons were held in the boiler room or in the storage room (where canned goods were kept).

As of February 1971, there was a central library of 1,347 books in the health room. At this time the Highlands School had a primary typewriter, 3 ditto machines, 3 pianos (2 in poor condition), 5 record players, 3 film strip projectors, a sound projector, 2 tape recorders, 3 tape cassette players, and a copy machine. In addition, the PAC (P.T.A. as it was know then) donated a television set and an opaque projector to the school.

Nineteen hundred and ninety six finds Highlands School a much different place from its original opening. Construction was completed in October 1995, which dramatically changed the look and size of the building. The staff welcomed 256 students on opening day. Due to construction, 186 Riverside School students were housed at Highlands from September 6 to the end of the school year. During 1996-1997 school year, Highlands played host to grades 3,4 and 5 from Great Oak School as their building was being reconstructed.

As well as 8 new classrooms, the building now houses a regulation size gym, a library, computer room, music room, and art room. In addition, there is a large amount of space divided into work rooms for teacher aides and offices for special area teachers. No longer is the storage room or boiler room used for instruction!

The $5.4 million renovation and addition was dedicated on October 18, 1996 with much praise for the principal, Rose Marie DiResta. Mrs. DiResta and, the faculty and staff maintained educational standards and student safety throughout the year of construction.

Highlands School has been blessed with eight very dedicated principals; Walter Perkins, Don Johnson, Harry Hershfield, Marie A. Sullivan, Robert W.Tivnan, Dorothea Lannon Gemellaro, Rose Marie DiResta, and Albert J. Robinson.

Redistricting of the Danvers Public Elementary Schools finds Highlands with an enrollment of 324 students, 12 new staff members and for the first time a new principal that Highlands can call their very own (Highlands has always shared a principal), Nancy Peterson along with the staff, parents and students look forward to a year of exploration and excitement as we become one community.

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