, Newburyport, MA


March 21, 2014

Facilities upgrade at Pentucket a needed plus

It’s tough enough for public schools to keep up with private schools.

There’s the perception, right or wrong, that students may get a better education at a private school and learn more. There’s little that public schools can do about that.

But when students choose the private route because of athletic success and, even more, athletic facilities, that doesn’t seem right.

That may be a problem at Pentucket. Despite being acknowledged as an excellent school, it regularly loses students to St. John’s Prep, Central Catholic and others.

The athletic facilities have been fading for years at Pentucket, in particular its outdoor ones, and the school district is finally going to act.

With construction scheduled to begin in the late spring, Pentucket will construct a new 8-lane track and six tennis courts behind the adjoining middle school and build two new fields, one within the track and the other in front of the school where the current tennis courts are located. The project is expected to cost roughly $1.3 million.

In addition, the field hockey/softball practice field in front of the school will be leveled and reseeded.

Everything should be ready by the fall, with the fields needing another growing season before usage.

All of the changes are needed, but the track was most critical.

Head coach Steve Derro has built a strong track program at the school, but the track facility was in such disrepair that it’s been at least five years since a home meet has been held.

Also, while tennis matches have continued to be held, the courts have been in desperate need of repair or replacement.

“We’re pretty excited, especially about the track,” said Pentucket athletic director Dan Thornton. “Track’s our biggest sport (participation-wise) and this should be a real championship-quality track. It’s going to reach a lot of athletes.”

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