LACONIA — "Fantastic" was the first word out of Richard (Dick) Dearborn's mouth last night after his first tour of the state-of-the-art high school science center that bears his name.
Dearborn and the leadership of the manufacturing company he founded, Eptam Plastics of Northfield, made a $100,000 donation to the School District's 2012 Capital Campaign to supplement the budget for the renovation and expansion of the Huot Regional Technical Education Center and other campus improvements at Laconia High School. Part of the project was the construction of a new science wing, with seven classrooms, that is now the Richard A. Dearborn Science Center.
Dearborn was joined at a dedication ceremony by members of his family, his work family, and members of the community who came to thank him and tour the new center. He is a 1954 graduate of LHS.
City Councilor Matt Lahey, who also headed the capital campaign, referred to Dearborn as a "local guy who made good and does a lot of good for his community."
He described the e-mail informing him of the donation as one of the most exciting of his life. Lahey is a 1973 graduate of Laconia High.
The new science classrooms and labs are in the spot that housed some of the programming at the Huot Center, space that was renovated and equipped as part of the $14 million construction and renovation project that also includes the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium and a new 32,000-square-foot building that now houses many of the technical center's programs.
Eptam Plastics also works with the school to coordinate its curriculum to make science and technology students ready for the jobs that await them after graduation.
Last night's dedication is part one of an event-laden Homecoming Weekend that includes the traditional Homecoming Parade to downtown and back (4 p.m.), the football game at 7 p.m., the dedication of the Fitzgerald Field (6:45 p.m.) and other alumni, school sports, and community events.
Science Department chairs and teachers Bonnie Ashworth and Ivy Leavitt-Carlson guided two groups of tour takers through the new center. Each teacher spoke briefly about his or her science program that includes physics, chemistry, biology, and the Huot Center's Bio-Technology Program –— one of the fastest growing high school programs that serves all of the Lakes Region's students.
One teacher said "amazing space" when referring to what it's like to teach students in the new center and that was the universal sentiments of the teachers who showcased their labs and their programs that include Advanced Placement Chemistry for the first time this year.
"This is a new generation of scientists," said School Board Chair Joe Cormier, "and because of the Dearborn family, we'll be able to give these students the education (they'll need)."
For Eptam Plastics and the Dearborn family, the science labs are an investment in their company in the form of potential employees.
"We look at the science center as part of our future," said Eptam President Jeff Hollinger.