By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Wednesday is moving day for teachers at Bowling Green Middle School. After years of cramming three grades into a building constructed for two grades, the middle school will now have a separate wing for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
“It really gives us the space we need,” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said last week as he walked down the hallway of the new addition.
“It’s going to allow us to spread out and not be as congested,” he said. “It allows each teacher to have their own room – which I think is very important.”
The new wing, with its 15 classrooms, is the one-story equivalent of the original two-story wing of the middle school. The eighth graders will get the new wing.
The cafeteria is also being expanded outward toward the parking lot. The additional space will allow for 20 more tables, so all the students can eat in the cafeteria during the three lunch periods.
The new exterior of the cafeteria will have bullet-proof shielding over the windows. And all the doors in the new classroom wing will be equipped with “The Boot” to keep out intruders, Radabaugh said.
The middle school addition is being paid for with permanent improvement funds.
“We’re fortunate the board made that decision,” Radabaugh said.
The total project cost is $4.4 million, according to architect Kent Buehrer.
The middle school was built in 2009 to house seventh and eighth graders. But after the district closed its older, smaller elementary schools, the sixth graders were sent to the middle school, Radabaugh said.
“We have three grades in a building built for two grades,” he said. Each grade has an average of 250 students.
That led to teachers having to share classrooms, plus some teachers and students having to use classrooms in the neighboring high school. Neither option was ideal, Radabaugh said.
“We had to get really creative,” he said.
“The teachers are really excited. The teachers coming from the high school are excited to be back in the middle school,” Radabaugh said.
The original middle school was designed for future expansion, which aided in construction of the addition.
The new wing has STEAM labs with collaborative learning spaces, new projectors, white boards, 3-D printers and flexible seating. The science rooms have mobile lab tables for student desks.
“It’s more of a working environment for students,” Radabaugh said.
The new wing also has a music room for choir classes, plus a teachers’ lounge. The wing is equipped with an updated fire alarm system, security cameras, and secure doors to the outside. The lockers are also in a more traditional configuration than those in the original middle school.
The first day of school for students is Aug. 22.