Construction of the new Sallisaw Middle School is five months ahead of schedule, and classes will start meeting there on March 23, School Superintendent Scott Farmer said.
Shane Cowan, left, and Jay Payne work on completing the kitchen in the new Sallisaw Middle School. School Superintendent Scott Farmer said the construction is ahead of schedule, and sixth, seventh, and eight-grade students will be moving to the new school March 23.
A new band room at Sallisaw Middle School is currently serving as a work room where student lockers are being assembled. The band room and other fine arts have a designated area at the new school.
The gym floor received a coat of varnish this week at the new Sallisaw High School.
March 23 is fulfillment day for the Sallisaw School System. That's the day the new $15.8 million Sallisaw Middle School will open for classes. School Superintendent Scott Farmer explained it was originally planned to open for classes in the fall of 2015, but construction has gone so well, and is about five months ahead of schedule, that it was decided to allow this year's classes to enjoy the new building too. Oakridge Building of Tulsa is in charge of the construction.
The new school replaces the old Tommie Spear Middle School, which has been in operation since 1950, Farmer said. The old middle school, 64 years old this year, was considered unsafe and prone to flooding in heavy rains. It also required repairs on a regular basis.
The new school, with 91,600 square feet, 30 classrooms, cafeteria and lunch area, gym, library and fine arts area, also offers the most modern and futuristic technology available, Farmer said. "The technical capacity is light years ahead," he said. "The saturation of wireless Internet is phenomenal. We'll have 30 percent more computer stations." The new building is also very safe, Farmer explained. Visitors to the school enter at the main entrance, which faces south. The first set of doors are unlocked, but a second set of doors, locked, then faces the visitor, who must be buzzed through the entrance and then pass by the offices of the principal and safety resource officer. "It will be a safe environment," Farmer said. He added that one large area is a designated safe area where students may find safety in case of a tornado.
Farmer said the school plan is oriented toward the three grades-sixth, seventh and eighth-with corridors designated for the three grades. Connecting doors in the classrooms allow students access to those teachers who teach different age and class groups. The fine arts area, Farmer explained, is set aside in a designated area to minimize noise from the band and choir, and not to interrupt other classes. Farmer added that a practice football field is planned on the north side of the property, so players won't have to be bussed to the school's football stadium, which is near the downtown area.
Farmer said moving the school and teachers will be huge task, but they couldn't be happier about it. "We will have a moving party," he said. Students and parents will be able to tour the new school prior to its opening, Farmer said, so that students may become familiar with the school's layout. Plans are for eighth-grade students and parents to visit from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 23. Seventh grade students and parents will visit from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, and sixth-grade students and parents may visit from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26. A community open house will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 2.
Farmer said, "We extend our appreciation to the public for supporting our new school."
Sallisaw voters approved the $15.8 million bond issue to build the new school on March 5, 2013, by the overwhelming margin of 78 percent to 21.6 percent. Ground was broken for the school in September of that year. The new middle school is on the 108-acre high school campus, facing interstate 40 just east of the high school. Farmer said the old middle school will not be abandoned, and several options for its use are being considered, including use by the Boys and Girls Club. The old school is named for Hall of Fame teacher Tommie Spear, and she will be remembered with a plaque at the new school. By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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