ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Willmar Middle School will be ready for students Tuesday

WILLMAR--Willmar Middle School has gone through a behind-the-scenes update, but students may not notice most of it when they come back to school Tuesday.

Briana Sanchez / TribuneRich Olson, health and safety director for Willmar Schools, walks around the construction area Aug. 22 at the Willmar Middle School. The building will be ready for students Tuesday.
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Rich Olson, health and safety director for Willmar Schools, walks around the construction area Aug. 22 at the Willmar Middle School. The building will be ready for students Tuesday.

WILLMAR-Willmar Middle School has gone through a behind-the-scenes update, but students may not notice most of it when they come back to school Tuesday.

They may not realize why the air seems fresher, and that the building is safer than it was when they left last spring.

They will certainly notice the expansion to the cafeteria. And they'll likely hear some of the work going on in the new science rooms that will open mid-year.

Workers and school staff were still busy in the past week installing doors, touching up paint, cleaning up, and waxing floors. It should all be ready when school opens Tuesday, according to Principal Mark Miley.

A former courtyard next to the cafeteria was enclosed to make a multipurpose room. With four doors off the cafeteria and two doors to hallways, the room can be left open to accommodate more students during lunch periods or shut off from the cafeteria for meetings.

ADVERTISEMENT

That room will have the most immediate impact on the school's operation, Miley said. "It will be wonderful for kids."

Miley said the room and some others around the school were finished in a gray and deep red color scheme.

Chief custodian Brian Brandt was anxious to get another coat of wax on the new floor before school starts. Some of the final coats may have to be done during the school year when students are gone from the building for a few days, he said.

Miley said ventilation throughout the building should be much better. On the roof, he and Brandt pointed out the 13 new air-handling units that were installed over the summer.

The new units should improve air flow throughout the building, Brandt said.

In addition to getting a good start on the science classrooms, contractors also spent the summer installing a sprinkler system throughout the building. Two new, highly efficient boilers have been installed.

As Miley walked down the hallway, he pointed to the ceiling panels above. "We had to take these out," he said, and it happened all over the school.

Firewall about two feet thick and new doors were installed to divide the building into four areas. The firewalls and the new doors are rated to contain a fire for two hours, Brandt said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The science room additions are enclosed, but interior work won't be finished for several months.

The western addition has four science classrooms, each about 1,500 square feet. The northern addition has four 1,300-square-foot science classrooms and restrooms.

"These are big classrooms," Miley said. The existing outdated science classrooms are about 975 square feet each. They will be available for other classes after the science rooms open.

Miley said the original plan was to have one eight-room addition, but they found it didn't fit well that way and didn't fit with the use of the building.

The wing with the smaller rooms will be used by sixth-graders, because it's closer to the majority of their other classes, and the area needed more restrooms, Miley said. Seventh- and eighth-graders will have larger rooms nearer their classes.

The layout just works better "for the future, for the students," he said.

As the school year draws closer, he said, he's anxious to see the building full of students again.

It was a long summer, as the building was off limits for much of it. "It was toughest not seeing staff," he said, as no one was allowed in the building before Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Related Topics: EDUCATION
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.
Volunteers lead lessons on infusing fibers with plant dyes and journaling scientific observations for youth in Crow Wing and Olmsted counties.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.