Louis H. Farrell Elementary School in Bell’s Corner came together last week to celebrate its new building, which replaced aging trailers that had been in the schoolyard for years.
However, one of the people most responsible for the expansion, the school’s principal Nick Cirulli Jr., wasn’t able to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. He has been out for most of the school year due to health issues.
“Mr. Cirulli was a large part of this expansion,” interim principal Charles Connor said.
“He worked in this building like he had built a house,” said Robin Hoyt, Farrell’s dean of students. “He carried rugs on his back. He carried furniture.”
School District of Philadelphia officials had wanted to hold off the ceremony until Cirulli returned. The new addition, which houses first through third grades, has been open since August.
Farrell, like many schools in the Northeast, has been growing. The K-8 school’s enrollment is 1,154 students, a jump from 879 in the 2009-10 school year, according to district data.
More students and the condition of the trailers prompted the need for the $7.1 million building, which features 12 classrooms. The two-story, 15,800-square-foot addition is air conditioned and also includes bathrooms and updated technology.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth here at Farrell,” said Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Dr. William Hite, who attended the Jan. 22 ceremony.
“As a part of that growth, we recognize the need to make these improvements to provide a healthy learning environment to better accommodate our young people,” he added.
Farrell’s choir performed at the ceremony, and third-grade student Khristina Danylyshyn thanked Cirulli and the district for the new building.
“When I was in first grade, it didn’t feel right,” she said. “I felt like I was separated from all the other classes because my class was in a trailer. The classrooms were small and didn’t have much space, but now everything is much better.”
“The cheers when the trailers finally left the yard were deafening,” said Dawn Park, president of the Farrell Home and School Association.
Longtime Farrell Principal Marie McCarthy, who retired in 2010, also attended the event. The addition includes a plaque dedicated to her late husband David J. McCarthy Jr., who was involved in school events and activities. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at email@example.com