Middle School Gets Room To Breathe



Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

James Gentless, a sixth-grader at Rim Country Middle School, concentrates on the music in front of him in the new band room at RCMS.


Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Mr. Buskirk and his class are taking full advantage of the new band room.


Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Susan Althoff and Stacy Ernst (photo right) check out a map of the newly constructed and recently occupied buildings at Rim Country Middle School.

The new construction smell circulated beneath high wooden rafters this week as staff at Rim Country Middle School stretched out in the spacious new structure that opened Tuesday.

The building, full of light and cathedral ceilings, contains office space and student services, a computer classroom and several special education classrooms.

The teacher lounge has wooden-frame windows reminiscent of home.

There is “room to breathe,” said Principal Gary Witherspoon. “The flow is much better.”

At the old offices, the hallway used to crowd if several people stood at the secretary’s window, waiting for assistance. Now, visitors walk up to a counter that stretches the length of the wide front room, and more seats are available for those who need to wait.

More parking and a renovated drop-off/pick-up area will also dilute traffic, which used to jam, Witherspoon said.

New, covered walkways protect students, staff and visitors from rain, and a new fence surrounding the entire perimeter enhances security.

The chaos has slowed with the completed building, but not evaporated. More construction is yet to come.

A science teacher for now conducts class on the stage in the combination cafeteria and gym until more classrooms are finished. Temporary walls have been constructed in one building for makeshift classrooms until construction workers finish the four rooms that will occupy the old administration area.

In Building F, school officials will likely welcome the end of folding 24 cafeteria tables each day and placing them against the wall to turn the eating area into a gym.

“The kids help,” Witherspoon explained. A new cafeteria is under construction.

A new band room is essentially finished with a few kinks in the acoustic department to smooth, Witherspoon added.

“The kids love it. They have a lot of pride in their school,” he said.

Renovations and the new building cost roughly $9 million all together, and were financed through a $33.8 million construction bond voters passed in 2006.

Other bond projects include a new school for Julia Randall Elementary, dome work at the high school, and more minor projects district-wide.


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