Forum looks at Somers Middle School expansion

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A conceptual schematic of the Somers Middle School $15.8 million construction project. (L’Heureux Page Werner)

Construction on a $15.8 million expansion and renovation project at Somers Middle School begins in June when students are released for summer break.

The first phase of construction will begin with excavation to build a new addition onto the middle school and expand a wing of the school built in the 1990s. The second phase, which begins next year, includes demolishing two older wings of the middle school, including the existing gym.

New construction will encompass roughly 44,810 square feet, with about 12,280 square feet of existing space being remodeled. Building capacity will be around 270 students.

The project includes a new science lab, shop, art room, music room, band room, stage, classrooms, greenhouse, gym, fitness room, locker rooms, a makerspace, breakout spaces and kitchen. The new gym will be large enough to be split into two courts for tournaments. Bleacher seating will be maximized to accommodate roughly 370 people.

Another highlight of the project is a new commons that will overlook the lower-level stage that will have amphitheater seating.

School staff recently met with architects Max Grebe and Aaron Schuldt of L’Heureux Page Werner and Jim Lake of Swank Enterprises to iron out any final concerns in the design or layout.

“We’re trying to lock down the floor design today so that Swank can start with the foundation as soon as kids are out of the building,” said Somers Middle School Principal Rose McIntyre.

Seventh and eighth-grade science teacher Danielle Blanc is looking forward to a new science classroom and lab to accommodate up to 30 students with adequately sized lab tables.

At the middle school level, students are typically doing dissections, learning about acids and bases, using microscopes and doing a lot of physics demonstrations Blanc said.

“There’s just no room for 25 to 30 middle school bodies and so I’ve had to figure out ways to rotate them around,” Blanc said.

While the library won’t change in size, the amount of usable space will. Lindsey Lee will become the middle school librarian next school year and is excited that built-in shelving will be installed, freeing up the middle of the library to better accommodate whole classes. Lee also requested the sizable checkout desk be replaced with a smaller desk used to free up more space.

“Overall, you guys feel the floor plan is where it needs to be,” Grebe said. “Do you feel real comfortable moving forward?”

Save for some minor interior modifications, McIntyre was in agreement that it was complete, including the site layout.

The public is invited to learn about the design at a community forum scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24 in the gym.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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