Mary Dolores Altavesta, the oldest daughter of immigrant parents, Mr. And Mrs. Michael Balestrene, was born December 25, 1888 in Boston, Massachusetts. At an early age, her parents settled in the northern section of Woburn, where she attended the Rumford School.
She married Michael Altavesta in 1905. Shortly after their marriage, they established one of the first grocery stores in the area. It was at this time, and for many years after, that Mary became a legend.
Along with managing the store, and raising a family of four boys, Joseph (who died at a very young age), Albert, Arthur (deceased) and Joseph II, she managed to find time throughout her life to devote a great deal of time and interest to the youth and adults of the community.
Mary was a kind, gentle, religious and generous woman. She was truly a benefactor and rendered many services and favors. People in the area were supplied with housing and food during hard times until such time that it could be paid for. Because of the language barrier, on many occasions she was called upon to act as interpreter and give counsel to many people. Her home and store were always open for community gatherings, especially for the young, where many of them received their first lesson in good citizenship. On many occasions, she was awakened to call for medical assistance for the sick and to assist the doctors in their chores and translations of their orders. Many people sought the advice and wisdom of Mrs. Altavesta. She was involved in many other worthy endeavors and activities, too numerous to mention.
It was because of the above, and many other humanitarian acts of Mrs. Altavesta, that the citizens of the area petitioned the Woburn School Committee to name the school in her honor.
Mrs. Altavesta passed away on February 23, 1935. The remaining members of her family have a great feeling of gratitude to the people that made the naming of the school possible and also a great deal of pride to know that after so many years, she was remembered for her good deeds.
When planning began for a new school in North Woburn, it was decided to name it after this wonderful citizen. The school was built in 1969. Mr. Francis Mooney was the principal who opened the building and established the high standards, which are the foundation of the school today.