By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The atmosphere was lighthearted, but the determination was intense.
About 125 teachers, parents and other community activists turned out Wednesday night for an evening of appetizers and wine tasting that raised thousands of dollars to put a hardwood floor in the new gym at Kittredge School. Tickets sold for $75 each. The event raised more than $5,000.
Kittredge is the only public school in North Andover that does not have a gym. The town is building a new gym at the school, and the project is expected to be finished by the spring.
A concrete floor is planned because the $810,000 approved by Town Meeting was not enough for a hardwood floor. Principal Richard Cushing, teachers, parents, former students, parents of former students and others have mobilized to raise the cash to pay for a hardwood surface.
The fundraising campaign began with Corks4Courts, which took place last night at Stachey’s Pizza, 21 High St. The owner of Stachey’s, Terry Holland, attended Kittredge as a child.
Wednesday night, every member of the wait staff wore a black and white T-shirt inscribed with Corks4Courts.
“I love Kittredge School,” said Cheryl Means. Her son Cam, now a sophomore at Texas Christian University, attended Kittredge. “They are deserving of this.”
She said that in the eyes of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Kittredge is a Level 1 school based on the performance of its students. “If we’re Level 1 in the classroom, we should be Level 1 in the gymnasium.”
Means and others at the fundraisers spoke highly of the school’s small size.
“We love Kittredge. We are fortunate that our kids can go to a small school where everyone knows each other,” said Dianne Lynch, who has two sons at the school. Aidan is in fourth grade while Thomas is a first-grader.
Town Moderator Mark DiSalvo, who served on the School Committee for 17 years, called Kittredge the “hidden treasure of North Andover.” Noting the big crowd on the front deck at Stachey’s, DiSalvo said, “This is a community coming together.”
Maureen Sakakeeny, who serves on the School Building Committee which has been overseeing the gym project, has three children attending Kittredge. Her youngest is now a junior at North Andover High.
Corks4Courts was only the first fundraiser in the campaign, Means said. A direct donation drive has been bringing in a lot of money and other events are in the works, she said.
Cushing, Means and the others involved in the campaign face a daunting task. They estimate a hardwood floor could cost $70,000 or more.