The community came to celebrate the opening and explore the new Chilmark School on Tuesday night. While the air outside was wintry, inside parents and children drew warmth from friendly teachers standing in their new classrooms. It was a first visit for most to the new facility.

School principal Kathy Collins was quick to show off the pride teachers and students were already feeling about their new building. The 44 students made their move into the school on Monday, Dec. 13th. Just a week later, the place was their daytime home.

In the main hallway, school administrators, teachers, parents and children met for a recreation of the ribbon cutting ceremony that took place last week. Vineyard district superintendent Kriner Cash spoke about the community effort behind the building of the new school. Mrs. Collins praised the efforts of the many members of the school building committee. With the ringing of the school bell, school building committee members and others cut the ribbon. The audience of over 100 people cheered.

Kindergarten couldn't have looked better.

Eleanor Neubert, who has worked for the school system for 21 years, stood next to Jill Rosenkranz, a special needs teacher. Both had been with the school system for years, going back to before the old Menemsha School faced overcrowding. Visitors to the school included Mary Jacobson, a former school principal of the Menemsha School, who brought her famous Christmas cornflake cookies. Edie Yoder, a former music and art teacher, also took the tour and joined in the general applause for the new school.

Miss Yoder said: "This school has everything you ever wished for and more."

In Lynne Whiting's classroom, the windows were decorated with starfish. The decorations weren't just art. Mrs. Whiting said her fourth and fifth grade students have been studying marine life for months, reading and writing about sea creatures. They had even written poetry about their discoveries.

Lindsey Rich, a sophomore at the regional high school, came to the opening. She had attended at the old Menemsha School. "We had class in the tin can," she said, recalling the nickname her class had created for the modular school rooms. She said of the new school: "It is nice."

Selectman Warren Doty was a member of the town school committee from 1980 to 1989. "We were talking about trailers back then," he said. "It has taken 20 years to get rid of them."

"I think everyone is excited," said police chief Tim Rich. "When the building weathers in, it will look like it has been here 50 years."

In Jon Harris's classroom, there were more than a dozen computers.

Jimmie Morgan, 75, a Menemsha fisherman, said he was impressed. When he went to the Menemsha School there was just one classroom. Today there are four classrooms and two rooms set aside for instructional and miscellaneous uses.

"I see a computer in every room. I hope they teach them the alphabet and how to add," Mr. Morgan said.