Quaker Valley middle school students return to updated building
Many Quaker Valley Middle School students will have a shorter commute on Monday when the Sewickley school reopens following an 18-month, $26.5 million construction project.
Since September 2011, seventh- and eighth-graders have attended classes at Anthony Wayne Elementary School in Ambridge. Sixth grade was housed at Osborne Elementary, while all district kindergartners were educated at Edgeworth Elementary.
Prior to winter break, middle schoolers were given the opportunity to tour the building on Harbaugh Street, which features renovations to the classrooms, cafeteria and gymnasium, a new wellness center and auditorium and enhanced music and art spaces.
The public will have the chance to see the renovated school during an open house planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 26.
Tours will be given, student musical performances and art exhibits are scheduled and refreshments and lunch will be available in the cafeteria.
Exclamations were overheard as eighth-graders walked through the neutral-colored halls of the building for the first time during their tour.
“It's so fancy,” one student said. Another couldn't believe it was the same building he attended as a sixth-grader.
During their visit, students were able to drop items off at their new lockers to help ease the transition when they return for classes there on Monday.
“It's really nice. It's so much nicer than Anthony Wayne,” eighth-grader Amelia Besterman gushed as she and classmate Isabella Brown unloaded books.
“It's such a big change,” Brown said.
Teachers also were pleased with their new spaces.
“I love this place. It's wonderful,” language arts teacher Tom Forrest said as he exited his new classroom, which boasts a large circular window overlooking the school's newly-renovated field.
Principal Sean Aiken said the new building offers more opportunities for students to learn and for teachers to teach. He said he's eager to see how teachers will utilize their new spaces.
“The creativity and innovation that some teachers have…now they are going to have a facility to support it,” he said.
Of the renovated building itself, Aiken called both the attention to detail and natural lighting “tremendous.”
Director of Administrative Services Joseph Marrone said there will be runners on each floor all day long for the first few weeks back to help students find their way.
With school safety on the minds of all parents following the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Marrone said the middle school has been equipped with an emergency shut-down system that, when activated, uses a magnet release to close sets of doors so that the school's hallways cannot be accessed.
Like the district elementary schools, every classroom in the building features a door that can be locked from the inside using any building key and a pull shade for its window.
Each room also is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.
Kristina Serafini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.