Fresh white ceilings and tiles, new energy-efficient lighting, a new sprinkler system and an updated paint job were just a few of the changes welcoming them back for the new year.
Down several hallways, but safely isolated on the other side of the building, construction has been in full force on the rising eighth-grade addition since early spring.
Doug Suits, newly appointed director of operations, said progress of the new wing is right on schedule and the displaced eighth-graders, who began their school year at Ringgold High School, will join their fellow middle schoolers after the Christmas break.
“Hard to believe so much has been done,” Suits said. “Forty-two-thousand square feet in seventeen months is quite a feat.”
Suits believes that the structure, designed with a rustic “urban” look with large panels of exposed brick and lots of “skylighting,” will really appeal to middle-schoolers. Another unique feature is a “catwalk,” or open bridge area adjoining two areas, which gives aesthetic value, as well as providing a place for monitoring activity of the overall area.
“It has a real open floor plan, so there's a lot of room and a lot of natural light, which I think will be great for the students,” Suits said.
Other plans for the 17-room complex include a spacious area for the band, with a loading and unloading dock, practice rooms, storage and uniform closets, and an office. A chorus room, a computer lab and 13 classrooms are also in the design.
Outside, the parking lot will soon connect to the existing high school lot to create flow and provide more parking space. Suits said plans for a new theater at the high school will minimize parking in the future, so the previous tennis courts were moved to another area and the lots were combined. Suits said the other outside athletic areas are basically finished.
“Our athletic fields are all in great shape again,” Suits said. “There's been a lot of updating to all the areas, the band practice field, the softball field. The tennis courts are new with a parking lot and bleachers. The last piece is the maintenance or storage shed by the football field. We're just waiting on a roof and it'll all be done. It's going to be a great year.”