With the emphatic digging of a dozen or so shovels by current Avery School students, construction began Friday on their new home set to open in March 2012.
School, town and state officials gathered on a gusty Friday morning in the parking lot above Dedham High School's football field to formally begin work on the $21 million school.
The new school will feature a media center, large classrooms, handicap accessibility and "cafetorium" – a combination auditorium and cafeteria – all features the current school, built in 1920, doesn't have.
Dedham received $11 million from the state's treasury department as part of its school building program.
Student representatives from each of Avery's five grades and its fifth grade student council used chrome-plated shovels to scoop the first pile of dirt for the new elementary school, which will be twice in size of the current school.
The new school is a result of advocacy from a group of neighbors who formed East Dedham's Mother Brook Community Group, the school committee and the school building rehabilitation committee, chaired by Andy Lawlor.
Dedham voters approved a debt override for the project in January by more than 60 percent. The town also approved an override for construction of a new athletic complex at the high school.
With special approval from the state treasury department, the same construction manager will oversee both projects, which district officials said will make for a better Avery School.