Even though the school year will be finished in a couple of weeks, the Quincy (Mass.) district couldn't wait to open the doors to its new middle school.
The Quincy Patriot Ledger reports that 350 students took the short journey Monday from the 92-year-old Sterling Middle School to a new $58 million, three-story facility—South West Middle School—that has been built directly behind the old school.
“To say that it’s been a long road to get here would definitely be an understatement,” says Sue Foley, a social studies teacher. “From having no gym, to phys-ed classes in the teacher’s room, to health in the cafeteria, to the countless number of trucks and pieces of construction equipment that have driven by our school every single day, we’ve gone through a lot to be sitting in this gym right now.”
The new school was built into a hill; the first floor opening onto Roberts Street and the second floor opening onto Granite Street. The first floor is home to the school’s gymnasium, auditorium, band hall, choir room and storage space, and the second includes the cafeteria and classroom space.
On the third floor is a glass-walled library that has views of the cafeteria and includes a sprawling computer lab, a video production room and an entrance to the art classroom.
Classrooms are arranged around a series of open common areas that administrators call neighborhoods. The spaces are circled by classrooms and furnished with tables, chairs, bookshelves and interactive dry erase boards. Fifth and sixth grades are housed on the second floor, and seventh and eighth grades are on the third.
“The school was designed to make sure you have everything you need to be successful,” Superintendent Richard Decristofaro told students. “When we look at our schools, every single wall inside every classroom, every office, every classroom, is hope. And that’s what we hope for you, and that’s why this building is so important. It’s all about hope for your future.”
This year’s eighth graders will have only a couple of weeks in the building before the school year ends.
The Sterling building is scheduled to be torn down later this month. Once the old building is gone, the front entrance of the South West School will be visible from the street.