New Midland School offers positive learning environment

It took a couple of years, but the Midland middle and high school students are now enjoying their new and improved school facility in Wyoming. On Dec. 18, the public was invited to tour the new school. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Open collaborative spaces like this allow the students to work on group projects outside of the classroom. There are various seating options, and the tabletops are also white boards.

The Midland middle and high school students all eat breakfast and lunch in the same cafeteria. As part of the project, the stage was restored inside the cafeteria for school productions and academic assemblies.

This is the ag science/consumer science classroom. The rooms throughout the art and science wing were enlarged and brought up to date.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     At the start of the 2018-19 school year, the students and staff at Midland Middle/High School entered into a new, updated facility in Wyoming.

     Last week, prior to Midland High School’s home basketball game, National Honor Society students provided tours to members of the public of the district’s new and improved facility.

     No longer do students have to walk outside between classes to get from one building to another. No longer do students have to take time out of their classes to get from one facility to the next.

     Principal Carol Reilly and School Business Official Megan Frankfurt (a Midland graduate) recently spoke to the Express about the excitement surrounding the new school facilities.

     Construction began on the combined middle/high school facility in April 2016. Reilly said all that remains is a punch list of small items to complete, which have to wait until the weather warms up.

     StruXture ISG out of Waterloo is the project architect. The general contractor is Unzeitig Construction Company in Cedar Rapids.

     Though it’s been a long two years, Reilly said, “It’s all worth it.” She said the students and staff exhibit such positive attitudes entering the new school every morning. The new facility has certainly made a difference. “It’s a wonderful place to come every day,” added Reilly. “It’s such a nice environment.”

     In April 2015, Midland’s bond vote of $12.83 million narrowly passed with the school district voters. Frankfurt said the building project actually came in slightly less at $12.343 million.

     “It passed by 1.8 votes,” said Frankfurt. “It was a very close margin. We’re very fortunate to have this building for a district the size of Midland.”

     While Midland is a small school district, it does encompass a large geographic area in Jones County.

     One of the major changes for the Midland students was the elimination of the 100-year-old-plus, three-story-high Bronson building. That facility housed the core classes such as math, social studies, English, art and special education. Reilly said it was inadequate for special education students to make their way through the Bronson building, and also a headache for students and staff to get from one building to the other during wet and winter weather.

     Reilly explained the Bronson building “was not conducive for 21st Century education.

     “There was no sound barrier. It was very noisy. It was not handicapped accessible. It had poor heating and cooling,” added Reilly.

     When the two-story addition onto the main school building was complete, the Bronson building was demolished last summer.

     “We took occupancy in January of this year,” said Frankfurt.

     Overall, the bond funds allowed for significant upgrades and renovations to the existing school, aside from an addition. The art and science wing was enlarged.

     “We were to turn the spaces into real classrooms,” said Reilly.

     The art room used to be housed in the basement of the Bronson building where there was limited lighting and no natural light. The new art room has a kiln for ceramics and plenty of storage.

     The science rooms are now equipped with sinks, lab stations, eye-washing sink, and other safety measures. The consumer science/ag science room now has a full kitchen.

     “It serves as a dual-purpose classroom,” said Reilly.

     The art and science wing classes all share a large storage area for equipment.

     The school office was also upgraded, particularly for safety precautions. Visitors now have to buzz into the office at the main door and enter the office to sign-in.

     “We have the capabilities now to lock down the building if needed,” said Reilly. “And everybody has to check in at the office now.

     The school also gained a new gymnasium, a new wrestling room/safe room, and a new shop room. They can host JV and varsity games at the same time in separate gyms.

     Overall, Reilly said there were not too many spaces within the current facility that weren’t remodeled or added on to. “Every space in the building had some work done to it,” she said.

     “This school meets every code you can think of,” added Frankfurt.

     Not only did the school change physically, but the school’s address also changed.

     “We had to vacate Green Street in front of the school,” said Frankfurt. (The address is now on Webster Street.)

     Reilly said it’s amazing how the noise level within the school has also diminished, adding to a more positive work environment for all.

     “With everyone under one roof, we’re more unified,” she said.

     To accommodate those with physical disabilities, an elevator was added as well.

     Reilly said she could just see how a new school benefits everyone inside.

     “It’s a cleaner, brighter learning environment,” she said proudly. “We all feel better being here.”

     She said academically, the new facility is “world’s above what we had.”

     The school no longer has to dismiss early due to the heat with an air-conditioned facility.

     Reilly praised the students for their resiliency during the entire project.

     “They were phenomenal through the process,” she said of shifting classes around, changing bus drop-off sites, and moving students around. “We had crews on scene for a year and half through this process; we were living in a construction zone.”

     Midland was lucky they were able to stick to the original design presented to voters, albeit some minor changes to storage and office areas.

     The school also wanted to offer a huge thanks to the Midland community for supporting the bond. “The community did us a great service by passing the bond,” said Reilly. “And now that the facility is fully finished, we want to give them an opportunity to see it.”

     Reilly said you get a real sense of how much the Midland community as a whole cares for the students and values rural education. “They believe in the future of the community here,” Reilly added.



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