Lowell — Students returning to Lowell Middle School after the holiday break had to quickly relearn how to get to class. After a year of construction, the new seventh- and eighth-grade wing opened for business on January 3.
The addition features a brand-new locker commons area and new classrooms for grades 7-8. The classrooms are much larger than before, offering plenty of space to spread out, and include lots of windows for natural light. In addition, there are several smaller breakout rooms, equipped with white boards and screens, available for small-group collaboration or quiet study time.
Part of the addition is also home to the middle school’s new media center, which includes new shelving and places to study. And behind the school, a new drop-off lane and parking areas will help fix traffic flow, especially during parent drop-off and pick-up times before and after school.
“Students are very excited about the new spaces; they love the increased classroom size and the small-group breakout rooms,” said Principal Abby Wiseman. “The space is designed to really increase flexible learning areas and to increase collaboration. Obviously with COVID-19, we still have to be mindful of the ways in which we collaborate.”
Wiseman said the new wing offers “everything in one convenient location” for the seventh- and eighth-graders, with accessible lockers and minimal travel time between classrooms.
“It really creates a team atmosphere with a collective effort from students and staff to build a positive, collaborative culture,” she said.
Work Funded by 2019 Bond
The work being done at the middle school is a large part of the district’s $52.1 million bond passed by voters in 2019. Superintendent Nate Fowler said that despite some material delays, “everything came together” for this new wing of the middle school, with the overall building project still on time and on budget.
“It was very exciting to welcome students into the addition at the middle school to start the new year,” Fowler said. “It feels like students are meant to be in that space. (It) provides lots of natural light and ventilation systems that promote student health and engagement. The new spaces are designed to prepare students for careers in the 21st century.”
Now, the work shifts to the next phase. With grades 7-8 settled into their new wing, sixth-grade classes have moved into the old 7-8 wing along Foreman Street for the rest of the school year and work has already begun to renovate the sixth-grade area. The old media center will be converted into the new locker common area for sixth grade, and classrooms in that wing will be renovated.
Fowler said the new sixth-grade area will be ready for use this fall to start the 2022-2023 school year.
This summer, the district plans to demolish the part of the building along Foreman Street that currently houses sixth-grade classrooms — the former 7-8 wing — and the school’s office area. During the 2022-23 school year, construction will begin on a new office space, new cafeteria and new auditorium for the middle school.