Design West Architects
Rendering of plans for Pathways Middle School.

Idaho district is building a permanent home for alternative middle school

Nov. 18, 2016
The West Ada district's Pathways Middle School in Meridian now consists entirely of portable classrooms.

The West Ada (Idaho) district has begun work in Meridian on the first permanent structure for Pathways Middle School in its nearly 10-year history.

The $6.3 million facility is being built will on land just across the parking lot from the existing Pathways, which consists of portable classrooms. The school provides an alternative education program for students in seventh and eighth grades.

“When you are in a school made up of portables, you are forced to use other peoples’ facilities to eat, hold assemblies, or have a student versus staff basketball game," says Principal Eric Eschen. "It’s kind of like having family dinners at someone else’s house.

"We are an intervention program, but not a forced placement program, so our students interview and choose to come here. Which means they have to leave an environment they know for someplace they do not know. Coming to a site which is temporary in nature adds an extra level of uncertainty. This new building is foundational for our program's permanency.”

Pathways students prefer alternative seating arrangements, so the school design veers away from having traditional student desks in every classroom. Plans include unconventional seating or standing desks in order to keep students focused on their work.

A common area in the school will serve many purposes throughout the school day: student hangout, dining area, science lab space, maker space lab, and more. Larger art and consumer science rooms enable more engaged learning. Small spaces also will be an important part of the campus, as they give students a quiet place to study or work on group projects.

The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2017. The architect is Design West Architects.

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