WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 173 of 223

place where I'm going to get the help I need.' Then the resistance is gone and it becomes 'their school.'" This mindset is what propelled Gifford forward out of the ashes. "We have a very high morale here because we're team-oriented, and because we're a strong team, that's how we got through this thing," he says. After the fire, the staff and Board of Directors decided to erect an improved building. Between a $500,000 fundraising campaign and a mortgage refinance, the new Fenn Center was dedicated in 2011, less than two years after the fire. The building is named for the late Robert Fenn, a retired shoe company executive and longtime Weston resident who was involved with the school in many capacities, including as a member of the Board, for 30 years. "He was very smart and active and, to some extent, I think being involved with Gifford was Bob's retire- ment!" laughs Bassichis. "He brought many other people to our Board who are just as successful in their own right and were his childhood friends. Bob stopped in every single day just to say hello." The new Fenn Center has a more functional nurse's office and a sci- ence room that includes a hands-on lab. The computer classroom has state-of-the art capabilities. But perhaps the best addition is a per- formance studio. Bassichis says it's an amazing place for students who may have communication issues to interact through plays, film, mock news shows, and comedy skits. "It really is an alternative way of pro- moting social relationships," he enthuses. The studio's mission has also been enhanced by visiting singers, gui- tar players, filmmakers, and actors who work together to develop pro- grams. "I'm flabbergasted at how students took to it so quickly, and their parents are so positive about it the changes they see." While Gifford has been a grateful recipient of largesse from the community, the school has likewise welcomed opportunities to lend support. "We're a nonprofit, but I believe nonprofits have to give something back to the town for the resources we receive," Bassichis affirms. Over the years, Gifford has helped pay for a new ambulance at the Fire Department and a senior citizen vehicle. Each spring, the school also opens its doors wide to everyone the weekend before Mother's Day with a highly anticipated tag sale. For Bassichis personally, 2015 is also a landmark year, because he will be retiring after 40 years of serving Gifford in changing capacities. "I love the place," he says, uttering a final heartfelt statement. "Every time I go there, it's like going home." 172 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 5 THE GIFFORD SCHOOL 177 Boston Post Road Weston, MA 02493 781.899.9500; www.gifford.org "an amazing place for students" education The new Fenn Center, which opened on campus in 2011 "I love the place. Every time I go there, it's like going home." – M i c h a e l J . B a s s i c h i s C O U R T E S Y T H E G I F F O R D S C H O O L

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