The students returning to classrooms at Golden’s Bell Middle School and the Manning School of Academics & Arts on Aug. 17 and 18 had plenty to be excited about. For one, it was the first time …
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The students returning to classrooms at Golden’s Bell Middle School and the Manning School of Academics & Arts on Aug. 17 and 18 had plenty to be excited about.
For one, it was the first time many of them have set foot on campus in over a year — or at all in the case for all the sixth-graders and many of the seventh-graders.
For another, the first day of school also provided their first look at the new renovations and additions that have added to and transformed their schools with bells and whistles ranging from state-of-the-art tech walls to a garage door that can be opened to flood a music room with natural light on sunny days.
New rooms will transform science class
At Bell, the highlight of the finished work is an 8,900-square-foot-addition that includes what Principal Michelle DeAndrea Austin describes four new “state-of-the-art science rooms,” plus new bathrooms.
DeAndrea Austin said those new science rooms are a huge deal for the school and its students because they will bring its science spaces into those offered at newer schools in the district.
“There’s a significant difference between the facility and even the experience the kids are having when you have an updated science room vs. one that’s 34 years old with trees growing through it as was the case with one of ours’” she said.
Also on the horizon is a renovation of the school’s neighboring robotics room and computer lab. However, DeAndrea Austin said students will have to wait a little longer than expected to begin using those new spaces after workers discovered asbestos that is now being removed from those rooms. She said she is now hoping that work will be completed by September.
“These rooms are going to be huge and they are going to allow us to do so much more,” she said.
Other changes include new paint in all the school’s classrooms, a new sprinkler system throughout the building and the addition of new partitions that have replaced the walls between some classrooms and can be raised and lowered to bring classrooms together for certain activities.
While most of the work was paid for with money from Jefferson County Public School’s 2018 bond, DeAndrea Austin said she was also able to dip into some of the school’s own funds to purchase new interactive projectors, which allow projected digital images to be manipulated, for every classroom.
“We still had projectors on carts,” said DeAndrea Austin of why she sprung for the upgrades. “That’s so 1990s.”
Addition replaces modular structures at Manning
Across town at the Manning School, an “options” school that attracts students from across Jeffco, students are also getting their first look at an addition expanded the school by about 10,000-square-feet and added several classrooms that replaced modular buildings that had been in use since the school added sixth grade students.
“It’s always Jeffco’s view that we want kids in the building,” said Manning School Principal Christian Ramaker.
As part of the work of creating the addition, Ramaker said teachers were able to choose what type of furniture to outfit their rooms with. Some teachers opted for circular and high tables and other more progressive elements while others went with more traditional single student desks.
Other changes include the addition of new landscaping elements on the exterior of the addition and new flooring for the auxiliary gym. However, one of the most unique elements is the new music room, which contains garage doors that can open to the outside.
“The idea is to be able to open these up and have some our smaller ensembles play while the parents sit out there and we have like a concert in the park,” he said.
With the work now mostly complete (finishing touches are being put on a new more secure main entrance to the school), Ramaker and the Manning community can now turn their attention to the work of the school year.
“We’re excited to have kids back in the building,” he said. “We have all of our kids back and it’s awesome to have them here and we’ve started the year on a very positive light.”
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