Middle school skips makeover, starts fresh

With sparkling clean floors, high ceilings and bright natural lighting, the new middle school, located on Averitt Road near Freedom Park, has opened its doors to the school year, holding great potential to become home to its staff and students.

Space and cost were considered when planning the construction of the new building; simply renovating the old was an option.

“The new middle school was built because we’ve grown out of what the old school could offer us,” Principal Chris Sutton said. “Repairs were costly each year, and we were running out of space. As a 63-year-old building, it was not able to support a 2017 education. We actually looked into renovating the old school, but we’d have to get all new plumbing and electricity. That in itself was millions of dollars. We felt that looking into a new site was the better option.”

The new building comes with favorable additions that staff members are not yet used to.

“I like all of the storage space I have here; I have seven drawers in my room,” Mrs. Terri Manship said. “I love the huge white board that covers my entire wall. Something else that is really cool is that the lights come on when I enter the room. I’ve found myself walking in and saying ‘ta-da.”

Unlike at the old school, each floor is home to a different grade level.

“For me, the biggest change is walking up stairs; I used to be able to walk right in and walk right out of the building,” Mr. Doug Ellington said. “Now, I have to walk up three flights of stairs. Also, you don’t see as many kids. Sixth, seventh and eighth grade each have their own floor, so there is a lot less congestion in the halls.”

The band and choir rooms are built far enough away from classrooms that there are no noise distractions during class time.

“The band room is pretty cool,” Christa Glenn, 8th grader, said. “The ceilings are really high, and you don’t have to hear other kids playing from your classroom.”

When compared to the new school, the old seems narrow, cramped and dim.

“The building is clean, has working air conditioning all over the place, we have more usable space and, honestly, it’s a lot lighter and airyer,” Assistant Principal Jennie Brinker said. “When you go back to the old middle school now, it just feels like the ceilings are low, it’s dark, and it’s not that clean. So this building feels shiny and new.”

Sterile and clean are words used to describe the blank canvas feel of the new middle school.

“It’s clean; everything here is clean, fresh, and white,” Mrs. Manship said. “It’s weird to be somewhere where there’s no history, and my room feels very sterile. But as I see children come and go, it will become home again. Right now, it feels very new and very unloved, but with the more students that pass through, we’ll get there. We’ll gain personality. All new memories get to be made here.”

As is understandable of any change, the comfortable feeling that accompanies what is known is missed.

“I miss the old school right now because I’m just used to where things were,” Mrs. Paula Irons said. “Now, my room is very different, and it’s going to take some getting used to. When I want to get my projector ready or even grab a pencil, those things aren’t where they used to be; I have to stop and think about what I’m doing. However, we are all more excited. It’s just like moving into a new house; because everything is brand new, that makes it a lot of fun. We also have better technology, a better network and more space for teachers to get together to work.”

With this being the first school year at the middle school, kinks are still being worked out.

“From wondering why a plug doesn’t work to making sure the trees are getting planted, it has been very hectic,” Mr. Sutton said. “There are just a lot of little things that I want to make sure are going right.”

Positive vibes and robust pride are both outcomes of the new middle school.

“A lot of people are really excited and are enjoying the school so far,” Mr. Brinker said. “It’s a new opportunity. A brand new building brings some positivity, excitement and pride to our school. I think it makes everyone feel reinvigorated and proud to be at Greenwood.”

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