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New buildings, new friends to be made

Construction on track for new fifth- and sixth-grade building

Byron Center — Fifth-grader Silas Buter anticipates being a part of the first graduating class from the new Nickels Intermediate School, opening this fall. 

“I’m really excited for the new school,” Silas said. “We’ll always be the first group of sixth-graders, no matter how many come through.” 

He and his friend, fifth-grader Alexa Barr, sat down with Nickels Intermediate Principal Tom Trout to see 3D renderings of what their new school will look like when it’s completed. 

“I’m looking forward to new carpets, new paint and lockers that won’t get stuck when you close them,” Silas added.  

Alexa said she likes the changes because there will be a lot of new things to experience at the new school. 

“It will be a bigger building with two stories, which means bigger classrooms and a bigger library,” she said. “I’m a little sad to leave, but mostly excited.”

The new Nickels Intermediate School, located on the same property as West Middle School, 8654 Homerich Ave. SW. is on track to open in the fall (courtesy)

New School in Progress  

The new Nickels Intermediate, located on the same property as West Middle School, 8654 Homerich Ave. SW, is funded by an $80 million bond proposal passed in May 2020. The new school, built for 900 students, is on track to open on Aug. 4. 

The new building will replace the current Nickels Intermediate School, 8638 Byron Center Ave. SW, which will be renovated into a fourth district elementary school, planned to open for the 2024-25 school year.

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., the project’s construction company, has kept the community in the loop with blog posts and photo updates about their progress at the new Nickels. Architecture firm is TowerPinkster.

“The gymnasium is painted, windows are in and basketball hoops are going up,” read the February update. “The gym flooring is expected to start in March!”

Principal Trout said there will be an open house before school starts for students and their families to tour the new building and reduce anxiety about starting a new year in a new school. 

The current fifth grade class already moved schools between fourth and fifth grade. They will move again to the new Nickels, and again to West Middle School for seventh grade. 

Said Alexa, “Moving to four schools in four years is a lot of change but it’s fun because you get to meet new people everywhere you go.” 

An architectural rendering of the media center at the new Nickels Intermediate School (courtesy)

Read more from Byron Center:
District breaks ground on new fifth and sixth grade building 
Sub’s video book teasers get high marks from viewers

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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