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Go inside the new Nooksack Valley Middle School

Less than two weeks until students arrive at the brand-new Nooksack Valley Middle School means work at the Everson site continues at a frantic pace. Every day in the weeks leading up to the opening brings a flurry of activity and definable changes.

A walk through the new building on Aug. 14, just two weeks prior to students arriving to the school on Aug. 30, showed that while more labor remains, years of work will wrap up soon on an impressive project.

For a series of photos from Aug. 14, check out this Facebook post on the district’s new Facebook site.

Not everything will be ready when students arrive on Aug. 30, such as the new parent drop-off location at the front of the building, separate from the bus turnaround on the east side of the building, but much of it will get wrapped up in time.

The new building was built directly behind the existing building, which was demolished in June, allowing for new construction on site. The heart of the two-story school rests in the center, where the main entrance—security doors force visitors into the main office upon entry during the school day—spills into the commons, which serves as the school’s cafeteria. The bus entrance leads students directly into the commons.

Along with a stage off to one side, which will also double as much classrooms, the commons features a roll-up garage door that opens the glass-enclosed space onto a covered patio area that will include picnic tables.

The outside space spills toward the NVMS fields, including the home site of the high school’s softball team, and has restrooms available to those using the fields.

The main educational wing runs from the administrative spaces toward the west, mirrored on the top and bottom floors. Each contains a two-hallway approach with the center section of the hallways filled with offices for everything from school mentors to counselors and speech specialists to teacher work areas.

The west wing was set up in pairs, with a shared learning space connecting each of the two classrooms, ideal for small groups or intendent study. Joel VanderYacht, principal, says that students will go back and forth between the two classrooms—one set up as science and math and the other as language arts—so they will grow accustomed to moving between the two spaces and using the shared space in between the two classes.

With 32 total teaching spaces, the hallways also include gathering spaces to “allow for the social aspects of middle school.” And everything includes an ample amount of light. “The neat thing is a lot of natural light throughout the building,” VanderYacht says.

Upstairs, the new library overlooks the fields and commons, while a new fitness center also overlooks the commons.

VanderYacht says the design of the school keeps students on the back side of the property when outside. Unlike the old building, which included elbows and plenty of turns, the rear of the building comes fairly even, allowing for easier supervision of the space.

Inside, Nooksack Valley Schools eliminated lockers in the hallways, instead giving students large bag-sized bays in each classroom to place items. Each student will also get assigned a locker in the new lockerroom so they can store valuables there.

Furniture should start arriving to the school on Aug. 21 and staff can start moving into the building Aug. 23, under the current schedule, allowing for students to arrive for the first day of school on Aug. 30. VanderYacht says he does expect some finishing touches needed on the building even after school has started.

Phased for a finish later in 2017, the old gym structure was saved and now sits adjacent to the new building. The ceiling was raised eight feet and the court square footage was doubled in size—the foundation was also shored up to repair a leveling issue. While work there continues to completely refurbish the old structure into something that looks entirely new, the old science labs adjacent to the space are getting completely overhauled and turned into lockerooms, an “exciting” turn of events, VanderYacht says, for the only original space getting the refurbished treatment at the new NVMS.

Nooksack Valley Middle School plans to host a community open house when the space is fully ready, likely sometime in October.