A tour of the new middle school

The Worth Atrium of The New Middle School – Christopher Schwarting ’24

     For over a year, students and faculty have been anticipating the completion of the new middle school facility. Replacing the outdated Crosman Hall, the new middle school was developed to accommodate teaching in the twenty-first century, and it has now seen its first class of students fill its halls.

     Standing as a modern, sleek figure, the new middle school facility has three stories: one for each grade level. On each floor, a row of classrooms line one side of an expansive hallway, with lockers and gathering spaces on the opposite side. Walking through the building and comparing it to Crosman Hall, one thing is immediately clear: there is a lot more space.

The Learning Commons on the second floor of The New Middle School – Christopher Schwarting ’24

     “One of the highlights [of this year is] the new building,” said Head of Middle School Dr. Jay Greytok. “The building is clean, it’s bright, it’s new, [and] the classrooms are big and beautiful.” 

     It would be wrong, however, to think these larger classrooms sacrifice space in the hallways, as was the case in Crosman Hall and the temporary classrooms of Virtue Village.

     “The space is very inviting, there’s lots of glass, a lot of natural light, [and] it’s easy to move around,” Dr. Greytok said.

A Form II classroom – Quinn Luong ’22

     In addition to the improved classroom and hallway spaces, the new building has received new creative areas to facilitate learning opportunities. One such location is called the Maker Space.

     “[The Maker Space] will be a place of creativity and design. We envision the boys building, creating, and designing in that room,” Middle School Dean of Students Ms. Tracy Nelson said. “Hopefully boys will use it during their free time, and we also hope to see teachers take advantage of it with their classes for projects. Our robotics program will also be housed in that space.”

     On the second floor, there is a space called the Learning Commons, which overlooks the building’s lobby. Like the Maker Space, it is a new collaborative area.

     “Boys will use [the Learning Commons] as a place to study, work in groups, and get help from the learning specialists,” Ms. Nelson said.

Locker spaces – Quinn Luong ’22

     While these new spaces are complete, they are currently serving different purposes due to the pandemic.

     “Unfortunately, we are using the Maker Space as a regular classroom this year,” said Ms. Nelson. “The Learning Commons is an empty space this year.”

     Along with these adaptations, different precautions to minimize the spread of COVID have caused some minor disruptions in the Middle School.

     “With any new building, there are some things that [do not] quite live up to some of our expectations, and we’re working and adjusting,” said Dr. Greytok. “We moved in rather rapidly, so there may have been some things that if we had a little bit more time, we could have noticed and had the time to fix without teachers in the building.”

     These setbacks include getting additional furniture dropped off and having construction workers come by to do a punch list, which is a document prepared near the end of a construction.  

The exterior of The New Middle School – Christopher Schwarting ’24

     Another one of the disruptions caused by the pandemic is a shift in how classes are run in the Middle School. 

     “The students are staying in one classroom, and the teachers are rotating,” Dr. Greytok said. “It’s a four-period day, but in order for us to get through our seven-block rotation, we’ve added a fifth period on Wednesday and dropped sports in the afternoon.”

     “Most of my teachers are teaching in two rooms at once,” Second Former Ian Rosenzweig said. “So, for example in my history class, [the teacher] will start in our classroom and we’ll take notes. Halfway through, the teacher will go to the other room. The teacher has set up modules on Canvas to work through.”

     Not only have classes changed, but lunch clubs, one of the primary ways for middle schoolers to engage in an extracurricular activity, has changed.

        “Because lunch is staggered and we can’t go in rooms, there can’t be lunch clubs,” Rosenzweig said. 

     He added, however, that some have moved to virtual platforms.

     Second Former Brady Cross also revealed changes in the organization of sports for middle schoolers.

     “It’s not like sports as usual when we had the same one every day for a season,” said Cross. “It’s essentially different units, but with coaches for different sports.”

     Each student gets to try out all of the sports offered this fall.   

“I think the teachers have been very good about making the coursework and transition manageable.”

Brady Cross ’25

     While these changes could have ended up alienating students, Middle School teachers have worked to ease the transition.

     “I think the teachers have been very good about making the coursework and transition manageable,” Cross said.

     So, how have students and teachers reacted to a new Middle School facility during a pandemic? Despite the opportunities that were lost from increased safety protocols, they remain optimistic, focusing on the positives.

     “It’s a very nice space for what we’ve been able to use, and comparing it to Crosman [Hall], there is a lot more airiness,” Rosenzweig said. “The building is big [and] spacious.”