Kirn Middle School has a new look inside and out after the completion of its $15 million renovation.
No public open house has been held at the school since the project’s substantial completion because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Nonpareil was allowed to tour the building after school hours on Wednesday.
“It turned out good,” Superintendent Vickie Murillo said. “It’s colorful, it’s bright.”
The new centrally located entrance opens up to a spacious lobby and atrium in a new addition to the front of the building. Visitors must be buzzed in and check in at the main office on the right, then be buzzed out into the rest of the school. Staff members can gain access with a card key, and the card reader records the identity of each staffer entering or leaving the building.
The school resource officer’s office — which faces the lobby — has a glass wall, giving the officer a clear view of those entering the lobby. On the left side of the corridor are the student and family services offices.
The lobby includes seating areas for visitors and students and a large screen where announcements can be displayed. The gym is just down the hall and around the corner.
Eighth-grader Preslie Girres, who was there for volleyball practice, said she likes the new Kirn and the improved gymnasium, as well as the classrooms.
“They’re nice, and they’re spaced out,” she said. “I think the upstairs is cool.”
One of the school’s two gyms will also serve as a cafeteria and auditorium, with fold-out chairs with seatbacks.
The band now has a much larger rehearsal space, as the bandroom is in the former auditorium, which has been fitted with acoustical panels to help control the sound level.
The new vocal room is also more spacious than the old one and has acoustical tile. A director’s desk has been built with plexiglass around it to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Each grade has its own area with its own color scheme. The eighth-grade pod, which is blue, is divided between two floors of a two-story addition. Each grade also has a learning commons area with more casual furniture, a large-screen computer monitor and, in some cases, giant white boards mounted on the wall. The eighth-grade commons is furnished with a curved bar with chairs, as well as some round tables and chairs. All learning commons areas include grade-level literature on rows of portable bookcases.
“They have access to those every day, not just once a week when they go to the library,” Murillo said. “(Teachers) can pull these (bookcases) into their classrooms.”
The sixth-grade pod, with sections of purple, straddles the space divided by the historic archway that was preserved from before the renovation.
“The kids really found it attractive to see that history,” Murillo said.
The seventh-grade pod is red, and the commons is furnished with tables that have chairs on one side and benches on the other, like a table in a restaurant.
“It really just lends itself to collaboration,” Murillo said.
The science classrooms include a lab area with sinks and plenty of cabinet space.
“This is probably double the space they had in a classroom,” Murillo said.
Other classrooms are generally larger, too, she said.
“Before we had some really small rooms here, and now the classrooms are all about the same size,” she said.
In the hallways, new lockers have been installed and in the pool area, the locker rooms have been remodeled.
An addition was also built on to the kitchen area to provide more room for coolers and storage.
Less visible in the newly renovated building are the infrastructure upgrades. Plumbing fixtures have been replaced, the electrical system has been redone and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system has been installed.
Across town, the renovation at Wilson Middle School is well underway.
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