From Convent to Corporation for Kids
Lighthouse School, Inc. was established in 1967 (as The Holy Union Special School) to provide educational opportunities for special needs students in the greater Lowell, Massachusetts area for whom alternative resources were nonexistent. The school relied exclusively on nominal parent contributions as a source of funding until 1973, when Chapter 766, the Massachusetts statute for special education, was introduced.
Since that time, Lighthouse School has grown and now offers Comprehensive Biodevelopmental Services to a large network of communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Our Current Building:
In 1996 land was secured and plans were made to build a new, state-of-the-art facility for occupancy during the 1997 school year.
Within a few days of being spotlighted in the Chelmsford Business Association's monthly newsletter, Lighthouse School received five telephone calls from members of the association, all of which provided our team with creative ideas. Two of these leads proved to be particularly interesting. Appointments were quickly scheduled in order to meet with two of the businesses.
Both businesses presented very interesting ideas that had potential. One of these meetings was with Mr. Thomas (Tommy) Gonsalves, the owner and president of TBG Construction located in North Chelmsford, MA. In our initial meeting, Mr. Gonsalves listened carefully to the circumstances we found ourselves in. The meeting was productive and concluded that day with Mr. Gonsalves agreeing to give what we had shared with him some thought and consideration. A few days later, Mr. Gonsalves called Lighthouse School and scheduled a second meeting. At the conclusion of that meeting, he promised to build the school.
Not wanting to seem ungrateful, we restated for him the strict parameters within which we needed to adhere to if we were going to successfully construct a very uniquely designed 50,000 sq. ft. facility that could not cost one penny over 3.2 million dollars and that had to be completed by August 31, 1997. Please understand that at this point no design, architecture, permitting, financing, regulatory approvals, etc. had even been started. This was a very tall order, but we had to believe because we were out of options.
With enormous effort on the parts of many people dedicated to this project, TBG Construction broke ground in early March of 1997. With snow still on the ground, the construction project began. The margin of error regarding the timeline was frighteningly small. Soon Mr. Gonsalves needed to put his work crews on a seven-day schedule. The project at that time was daunting and seemingly impossible. Mr. Gonsalves, however, was convinced that the project could be completed and delivered as he had stated.
Remarkable as it may seem, Mr. Gonsalves handed Lighthouse School the keys to our new school on August 31st, just as he had promised. It was built as we had asked, delivered on schedule and on budget.