SUMMIT: More windows, more technology, more space — there’s seemingly more of everything good at Boyd County Middle School, which held its first day of classes Wednesday in a freshly-renovated building.
Teachers and students alike applauded the completed upgrade, which has been in progress since early 2016 and cost about $25 million.
“I like the electronics. It doesn’t feel like school is boring anymore because of all the electronical stuff. And I like the windows. They make it feel like I have more room to breathe,” said sixth-grader Kayelee Laney during her lunch in the revamped cafeteria.
“Everything is bigger, more roomy. I like it better than before,” said eighth-grader Annie White.
“I could have retired this year but I’m going to keep teaching,” said American history teacher Melanie Jarrell, who was a student at the middle school when it was first opened in the 1970s.
“It’s Shangri-la compared to the old place,” band instructor Guy Molinary said about his band room. “There’s twice the square footage and shelving for all the kids (to store instruments). There’s state of the art speakers; the sound engineers did an excellent job. It no longer sounds like playing in a gymnasium or a barrel.”
Students and staff were still finding their bearings Wednesday; teachers led clusters of students on tours and principal Kimberly Fitch paused several times while escorting a visitor to help children find their way.
“The only difference today from the first day of school is that teachers know their kids’ names,” Fitch said.
The first morning started smoothly, with four sheriff’s deputies helping direct the new traffic flow for student dropoffs, and children started their day with orientation, locker assignments and review of drills for disasters and lockdowns.
One clue students were excited about their new school — attendance was at 96.6 percent, higher than expected during flu season.
Office staffers were still adjusting to the new buzz-in system, which channels visitors through one secure door to a vestibule, then through a second secure door to the office, and finally through a third secure door to the rest of the school.
Technology upgrades include wireless microphone systems in each classroom that enable teachers to reach all parts of the room without raising their voices. “I love the amplifiers,” Jarrell said. “When you teach a class of 30 kids, you tend to project your voice. Now they can hear my normal voice . . . it’s easier on their ears and easier on my voice.”
The relocated library was designed with research, computer work, multimedia presentations and other functions in mind besides reading and checking out books, librarian Melissa Prater said. “This is an amazing space. The windows, the visibility, the different work spaces for students . . . instead of just a library, this is a true media center,” she said.
The architect consulted with Prater to design the library, she said. “I told him my vision and he said what he thought and this is what he came up with. He was listening for sure,” she said.
Transition took close to five days from where the school was holding classes in the old Boyd County High School, now called the Heritage Building.
A number of teachers came in on their own time over the weekend to set up classrooms and other volunteers pitched in, including high-school and middle-school students, Fitch said.
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