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New middle school becoming reality

The brand-new Nooksack Valley Middle School isn’t quite ready, but it will be soon. As the final week of school at the old building brought feverish work—teachers and staff had to clear the school fully within days of school finishing in order to allow construction crews to move forward on dismantling the school—everything now remains focused on opening the new school in August.

“It was a crazy end to the school year,” says Joel Vanderyacht, middle school principal.

The last day of students in the building was on a Tuesday and teachers had to be fully packed and out by Wednesday morning. A moving crew cleared out everything through Thursday and principals from other buildings came in and tagged any furniture still in good shape that could be moved to their building. The community came in for a surplus sale on Thursday afternoon and by Monday, June 26, the contractors had control of the building to start the process of asbestos abatement.

“Hopefully that all goes well and then after that they can start demolition,” Vanderyacht says. The date of full demolition on the middle school may vary, but it will happen within weeks.

With the focus turning from moving out of the old building and into the new, crews continue to get the two-story building ready, moving from west to east. In the west wing, crews have already installed sheetrock, painted and prepped the space with cabinets, finished walls and more. “It is starting to look like real classrooms more and more,” Vanderyacht says.

Work continues in the common area, fitness center, office and the rest of the east side to bring it up to speed.

The middle school completion date and day staff can start moving in is set for Aug. 22, giving just a few days before the first date of school on Aug. 30. Staff will have two days of set-up before professional development gets going. And instead of the annual off-site retreat to start the year, Vanderyacht will keep staff on site for the event, an opportunity to continue with the excitement of the new building.

Vanderyacht says the building has really started to take shape and a walk-through with staff shows off how the building will lay out. “There will be a lot to learn when we move in,” he says.

New technology will abound throughout, such as interactive projectors and classrooms having a speaker system that allows teachers to wear a necklace microphone that projects their voice throughout the room.

A community open house will occur at some point in the fall, likely October or November. The new gym and locker rooms will be the two pieces that will get completed after the start of the school year, scheduled for completion in November.

From smart projectors to a completely new school layout, there will be plenty for teachers and students to get used to with the new school. But they are all things the staff is looking forward to experiencing.