The $3.6 million Chilmark School is done. No sooner had the contractor finished the work on Tuesday than school principal Kathy Collins and others began moving boxes into the new building.

For years the teachers in the Menemsha School have worked in cramped quarters, making many rooms serve multiple purposes. The principal’s office in the Menemsha School is also the music room, the lunchroom and the nurse’s office. For all its faults, the school has been an intimate space for educators and students; now everyone wants to bring the best of that sense of closeness to the new building.

At the new Chilmark School the walls are white and the rooms are spacious. It is clean, tidy and remarkably different from the older school across and down the street. There are no children’s fingerprints under the light switches. There are no crayon marks on the floor, no notes sticking to walls. And there is a silence not yet broken by the happy shouts of children.

The move into the new school will bring its list of challenges, and perhaps the most daunting task will be making the school feel like home. It took so many years for the town to come up with an acceptable plan for the school that retained one of Chilmark’s greatest attributes, its sense of home. The four full-time teachers and all of the 44 students in the school are now eager to make the move.

“I really didn’t want to leave this building [Menemsha School] because of the souls you feel when you walk in the building. I didn’t think they could be able to catch the feeling of the school’s oldest classroom. But they did,” said Jill Rosenkranz, a special needs teacher since 1980. “They have that feeling. The new school doesn’t feel like an institution.”

It will take the whole month of November to complete the move. Yesterday furniture was delivered to the school and today workmen plan to hang chalkboards. In the weeks ahead, safety issues need to be addressed, grass will be planted and the teachers will have time to arrange their classes.

Three of the five new classrooms in the new school will be used as classrooms. The other two rooms will be used for miscellaneous instruction from music to art. Every classroom will have five computers.

Jon Harris, enrichment technology teacher, gets a media lab and reference library with 12 computer stations. The principal’s office will be the principal’s office, and nothing else. The school even has one amenity unheard of: a dishwasher in a kitchenette. High up in the school tower there is a school bell from Switzerland that can be rung with the yank of a rope.

Said Mrs. Collins: “I see nothing but opportunity for us. We have outstanding teachers and they are right on target in all that they do. This new space will help them. They are a little afraid, but we are all looking ahead.”

To make the new school seem more familiar, the teachers and administrators plan to bring a few of the small school traditions of the old to the new. There will be a Friday multi-age program which brings all the students together. There is also the outdoor classroom where students can gather together.

Last Friday all the students in the school participated together in a study of UNICEF, a program that raises money for the children of the world. Every one of the students participated, the oldest helping the youngest. Mrs. Collins said it is events like this one that make the Chilmark School such a wonderful place to learn.

When Eleanor Neubert began working at the Menemsha School 21 years ago, there were 30 students in the school. There were just two rooms, a class for first through third grade and a second room for third through fifth grade. If there was one thing she wants to see in the new school, she said: “We want to stay intimate and keep it a small-feeling school.”