Middle School Renovation Progresses

The Atlantic Middle School has undergone many changes to prepare for students for the 2022-2023 school year.

July 27th, 2021 the Atlantic Middle School caught on fire, and students couldn’t return for the 2021-22 school year. Since then, the middle school has been under renovation. According to superintendent Steven Barber, the renovations have been going “relatively well.” The reconstruction process has been conducted in two phases. Phase one was to clean the building. “It took 3-4 months to get the water and equipment out of there,” Barber said. 

The process of getting the moisture out of the building was necessary to prevent further damage. The second phase was the construction. Barber explained that the roof was replaced by a company out of Kansas City before the second phase of renovation could begin. 

The middle school did go through several changes during the process, such as moving the district’s central office to the Achievement Center on the west edge of town. Another change was to put carpet in rooms that previously had wood floors.  “Ninety percent of the wood floors are now carpet”, Barber said. The ceilings were also lowered in some areas to provide more access to the “HVAC.” The space that had been the central office is now a classroom, and there is now a second security door to get into the middle school.

 Barber said the school was insured up to $22 million and stressed how fortunate the district was in that regard.

Pullquote Photo

It’s a long process, there’re many players inside this whole process

— Steven Barber

“It’s a long process, there’re many players inside this whole process, ” Barber said, referring to the insurance company, contractors, and sub-contractors working together. They started renovating stage of the repair began in late November.

The local business of Interior Touch is providing all the carpets. “They have access to supplies maybe other companies do not have access. We can have all the sub-contractors but if we don’t have the supplies to reconstruct the building, it won’t do us any good.”

Barber said the school does not yet have a target date for getting the teachers back into the building, but students are expected in the middle school on August 23, 2022. “We’re on schedule and are confident that we will be ready for the first day of school.”

“We were very fortunate to be able to figure out what to do with 350 students,” Barber said.  The eighth-graders moved to the high school while the Link Center housed the sixth and seventh-graders. He is very fortunate for Randy and Allen Watts, Nathan Berg, and other volunteers to help build temporary classrooms in a matter of two weeks. 

Kawai Mualia, an eighth-grader who attended classes in the high-school building this year, said at first it “felt weird.” He said,” We were supposed to be the oldest” in the middle school and then “instead we were the youngest.” Mualia said he sometimes felt “unwanted.” He expressed at times felt out of place. “Everybody seems older, driving cars and stuff.”

Eighth-grade student Gavin McLaren agreed with Mualia’s assessment. He had looked forward to his last year at the middle school. “You walk in the hallways and you would be the top guys, and now you have to wait around a couple of years to get your chance.”

Mualia and McLaren both mentioned the difficulty of attending classes in the Media Center, which housed three classrooms in a single space. McLaren said it was at times “hard to learn” with the outside noise. He said he would “pop in headphones [to block the noise] and settle in to get work done.”

Mualia said there were also advantages to “attending” high school as an eighth-grader. “I know where everything is,” he said. His cousins are high-school students and he now “sees how it’s busy” for them.

McLaren said the year will give him a “head start” in high school. He’s also had the benefit of being at the same school as his older brother, junior Jackson McLaren. “It’s more convenient,” he said. “It’s kind of nice.”