Opinion: vote ‘yes’ on Decas School community center article

Oct 18, 2021

To the Editor: 

The future of the John W. Decas Elementary School lies in the hands of the residents of Wareham. As many know, my grandparents William and Esther Decas wanted to memorialize their son John who was killed in France in December 1944. By donating funds toward the building of a school which would carry their son’s name they were able to combine a memorial to their son with their love of the town and respect for education.

As a child, I spent quite a bit of time with my grandparents sitting in their sunroom listening to radio broadcasts of Red Sox games. There I learned of their love for America and Wareham. My grandfather would say to me “only in America could a poor immigrant boy from a small village in Greece with a fourth grade education become successful.” He knew the residents of Wareham had provided the Decas families with both business and personal opportunities. 

Education was extremely important and valued by all the Decas families. My mother Georgia attended college after high school, which was certainly not the norm in the late 1930s. Scholarships have been established to assist Wareham students to further their education. In 1969, when the Decas School opened, it provided the children of Wareham a modern school building as well as a legacy to my uncle Johnny. My mother continued to be a benefactor to Wareham by her endowment to the Decas School. She loved visiting the school and so enjoyed reading to the students.

The opening of the new elementary school next year continues the tradition of Wareham investing in the education of their children. All towns wrestle with what to do with vacant town buildings, but Wareham will be able to move existing programs and services as well as initiate new ones in a building ready for immediate occupancy. I am thrilled with the plans to repurpose the Decas School while retaining its initial mission as a place of learning. The development of an intergenerational community center will provide space and services for so many programs in one welcoming facility. The community center will become not only a focal point in that neighborhood, but for the entire town. Land is scarce and the Decas School sits on a large parcel of property, allowing for additional growth. A YES vote on Article 20 at the Fall Town Meeting will enable this ambitious goal to be realized, thus benefiting both present and future generations.


Esther Chamberlain 

Chelmsford, MA 01824