On March 5th, 2019, the town of Brookfield, Connecticut approved a $78.1 million plan in a vote of 1,846 to 1,033 to create a new, improved, and much larger Brookfield elementary school. This place of education will be named Candlewood Lake Elementary School and will be built on the grounds of the 58-year-old existing Huckleberry Hill Elementary School.
Necessary and in the works for years prior, residents were eager to see this project occur. As a Huckleberry Hill Elementary School alumni years ago who longed for a greater learning and childhood environment, I was thrilled to see this news and saw it as a victory for future Brookfield students who will be able to grow up in an improved environment.
Candlewood Lake Elementary School will host pre-kindergarten through fifth grade (taking in all grades from the historical Center Elementary School and also fifth grade from Whisconier Middle School). This will tally the number of students on campus at around 1,100. Staff from Center Elementary School and Whisconier Middle School will join faculty from Huckleberry at the new Candlewood Lake Elementary School.
The construction for Candlewood Lake Elementary School broke ground on May 1st, 2021 with a special ceremony attended by Huckleberry Hill Elementary School’s Principal Labrosciano, Brookfield Superintendent John Barile, Brookfield State Representative Stephen Harding, and many more individuals vital to Brookfield’s success. Since then, drivers on Candlewood Lake Road next to the present Huckleberry Hill Elementary School have been met with traffic imposed by construction every day, work both related to the school and a separate water pipeline project along the road that Huckleberry Principal Labrosciano tells me the school will “tie into.”
A banner on a fence that is in between the main road and one of Huckleberry’s fields reads, “Future home of Candlewood Lake Elementary School coming fall 2022.” According to Principal Labrosciano, the construction is “on schedule” for this intended finish time. Brookfield Superintendent John Barile told me over the phone that “trenches have been dug,” “the foundation and underground utilities for the new building have been built,” and “walls have been put up.” “Kids every day at recess are poking their head through the fences,” Principal Labrosciano laughed telling me.
The new school will absolutely take advantage of the $78.1 million put towards it. The larger outdoor space is going to include a multipurpose sports field and two baseball diamonds, one of which is overlapping the sports field. The site will also include more plain outdoor space, an up-to-date playground, and more parking area. The actual school will have three floors and multiple wings for different purposes, according to the project’s Facebook page.
Closest to the entrance will be the Early Childhood Center for grades pre-kindergarten through first grade and also shared core space and community use. While this will include traditional shared spaces such as gyms and cafeteria, it will also have state-of-the-art labs, media centers, and special education spaces. Huckleberry Hill Elementary School Principal Labrosciano tells me that this area will allow for “awesome opportunities for collaboration” across grade levels. Farther from the drop-off zone will be where grades two through five learn.
Brookfield Superintendent John Barile puts it this way: “Candlewood Lake Elementary School is going to be an improvement between all three schools: Center Elementary School, Huckleberry Hill Elementary School, and Whisconier Middle School.” “Fifth graders from Whisconier Middle School who have been educated in portable classrooms for the longest time will no longer be in portables,” he exclaimed. Candlewood Lake Elementary School is going to be a “state-of-the-art brand new facility” with great technology. The building will be “energy-efficient and have amazing air quality, something very important during the pandemic” and there will be “temperature control all over.” Additionally, the school will be “built for ideal acoustics and lighting,” “the hallways made for both walking and working space,” and “the building can be used as a shelter.”
Huckleberry Hill Elementary School will be demolished in summer 2022 and the Candlewood Lake Elementary School building will be ready for 2022-2023 students on the first day of school, says Superintendent Barile. However, he cautioned that there will be “outdoor considerations during the 2022-2023 school year” to take care of like parking, the driveway, and outdoor play space.
Although the construction for the new school will endure over the course of the upcoming school year and outdoors in the following, students will not be majorly affected, assures Principal Labrosciano. The construction has “taken away outdoor space and facilities” but spaces have been adjusted to make up for this change; “dismissal has been tweaked” but in a way that is still swift in getting kids home.
“It’s very exciting,” Huckleberry Hill Principal Labrosciano and Brookfield Superintendent Barile both said to me enthusiastically. I believe that this is the general feeling among all Brookfield residents and especially the young students who will benefit immensely from the project.