Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 12, 2014

Moving on up

Eighth-graders at Verity Middle School take possession of the third floor

ASHLAND — Principal David Greene made a point of watching in the hallway two Fridays ago when eighth-graders got their first glimpse of the renovated Verity Middle School third floor.

“With the exception of a few in yearbook class none of the kids had been up there. I saw a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. The kids told me it looks like a college,” Greene said Tuesday.

The freshly painted walls, bright lighting and new, unscuffed floors all made a big impression on the students, who had chafed at being shuffled into temporary classrooms during the construction. “They had to make arrangements and sacrifice, and now they can reap the rewards of their sacrifices earlier this year,” he said.

Completion of the third floor marks a significant milestone in the renovation of Verity, which modernizes the aging school and prepares it for adding sixth grade.

With Verity using the team-teaching method, the completion means both eighth-grade teams are on the same floor. Each team has a science lab and associated classroom.

Also complete on the third floor are an orchestra room in the former gifted-talented room and a family and consumer science lab.

However, library books and furniture are stacked on the counters in that room because it is being used as a temporary library while the permanent one downstairs undergoes its renovation.

The gloss of the paint and the newness of the floor and ceiling tiles are only the most visible elements of the renovation. Technology upgrades put interactive smartboards, projectors, audio enhancers and microphones in each classroom.

Motion sensitive controls turn lights on when people enter rooms and off if no motion is detected for a span of time.

Some rooms have foldable walls that can be opened to accommodate larger groups, which reinforces the team-teaching concept.

The lab-classroom combinations save time and enhance efficiency, science teacher Diane Carper said. For instance, if her students are working on experiments involving plants, they can move from lab to classroom and back without having to stow their projects away.

An elective wing houses a Spanish classroom in addition to the orchestra and food lab.

Demolition started this week on the second floor, which when completed will be similar to the third and will house the two seventh-grade teams. Once the floor is gutted, workers will install electric and plumbing components, the ceiling tile grid and lights, patch and paint walls, then install ceiling and floor tiles.

The third-floor addition was completed on schedule but workers lost some time over the winter on the new gymnasium. Walls are up and the next step is installing the roof before finishing out the inside.

Completion target remains beginning of the 2014-15 school year, said Codell Construction site manager Taylor Coates, but that will involve making up for lost time.

Also ongoing is outside work on cafeteria and kitchen expansion; after school dismisses for the summer the new sections will be completed and tied in to the existing cafeteria and kitchen, which remain in use, Greene said.

The cafeteria enlargement is necessary because of the addition of sixth grade, as many as 250 students.

Parking areas also are being added, one of them at the 29th Street entrance of the school and another at the other side of the building facing Blackburn Avenue.

Once change yet to be made on the third floor is painting of the lockers. Currently blue, they will be recolored maroon in keeping with the school’s new identity.

The Ashland Board of Education in December voted to change the name to Ashland Middle School, and the change will be effective next school year.

The new gym will employ the new maroon, white and gray scheme.

The old gym will be remodeled to house the sixth grade and Greene said that final phase should be complete in time for the 2015-16 school year.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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