Grand opening held for Evans & McGraw Learning Center

Irondequoit library trailblazers called 'an inspiring story'
Posted on 08/22/2018

Group picture of dignitaries at the new Evans & McGraw Learning Center grand opening.

The West Irondequoit Central School District held a grand opening and dedication ceremony for its new learning center – the Evans & McGraw Learning Center – at 45 Cooper Road on Wednesday morning.

“This an inspiring story,” New York State Majority Leader Joe Morelle said at the ceremony.

Irondequoit had no library through most of the 1940s, but that changed because of Pauline Evans, and in the decades that followed she and Helen McGraw were key figures in helping establish and expand branches. Both Irondequoit library trailblazers have long since passed away, but McGraw’s son, Ed, was in attendance and spoke about his mother, who died in 1991. WICSD Superintendent Jeff Crane, State Senator Rich Funke, State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Town Supervisor Dave Seeley also spoke.

So did 2018 Irondequoit High School graduate Noelle Gangarossa, who came up with the name for the new learning center earlier this year after her business teacher, Louis DiCesare, asked his students for suggestions.

“This student understood tradition and honoring our past to the level that she helped name this building,” said Crane, who introduced Gangarossa. “I’m so proud of all of our kids and Noelle … (she understands) how much pride we have in her.”

The learning center’s most integral role at WICSD is to serve as a hub for curriculum leaders, geared toward their professional development so they can learn, collaborate and share teaching strategies that enhance instruction for our students.

The building was formerly the Pauline Evans Branch of the Irondequoit library before it closed in 2015 when the town opened its new, expansive library at 1290 Titus Ave. That branched opened in 1963. The Helen McGraw Branch at 2180 East Ridge Road opened the same year but also closed in 2015.

Evans led a grassroots campaign in 1947 to open Irondequoit’s first library. It happened in an era when women weren’t expected to be town leaders. McGraw grabbed the torch as the town’s first library director in 1958, a tenure that lasted until 1975.

“Now this (building),” Gangarossa said Wednesday, “can continue to honor the legacy Evans and McGraw made for themselves and our community.”