Leader Blues

Friday, July 31, 2009

TOP STORY >> $13.5M school for Cabot......trailers for Jacksonville

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

Cabot Junior High North is set to reopen in its state of the art facility after a devastating fire in Aug. 2006.

On Wednesday, teachers were allowed inside the school to begin setting up their rooms for the start of the new school year on Aug. 19.

The new $13.5 million, two-story 127,282-square-foot building will be a welcome change for students and teachers. For three years, classes have been held in portable classrooms and in buildings at the high school.

Several teachers were preparing their classrooms and spoke with a positive outlook about being together under one roof.

“We are very excited. It is nice to have storage space. It is nice to not walk around in the mud wearing rubber boots,” said eighth-grade social studies teacher Kimberly Hill said.

Hill will be starting her 20th year of teaching; 18 of those years have been with the Cabot School District. She said the new junior high will be a place students will be proud of.

“We will get to know the faculty better. We were scattered everywhere in different trailers and sections of the high school campus,” she said.

Teachers lost everything when the school burned down, Hill said. When the teachers came back they learned about new technologies, PowerPoint and how to store lessons on computers. They are no longer dependent on papers and books.

“The new technology is great for the kids. The fire forced me to move on to modern teaching,” Hill said.

She explained that if there were to be another disaster, the social studies department has teaching materials saved on PowerPoint (presentations). The teachers would not have to start over from scratch.

Hill said after the fire occurred, the social studies teachers from Cabot Junior High South, “Were fabulous and wonderful. They brought and shared everything they had. We built relationships with them.”

Across the hallway, Kasey Hill, eighth-and ninth-grade Pre AP social studies teacher, was preparing her classroom. (No relation to social studies teacher Kimberly Hill.)

For Kasey Hill, this marks her third year to teach at Cabot Junior High North. It will be the first year for Hill to teach in a regular classroom setting instead of a portable classroom.

Hill said she was looking forward to having unity with the faculty and the students.

“Being in the trailers, it seemed we were separated. Half of the teachers you never saw. We would see teachers in the hallways and at various places around campus,” Kasey Hill said.

She said it is a better environment for students to learn. She said some of the students would be prepared for the weather and some would not.

“You don’t have to worry about the weather. You can focus more on the students,” Hill said.

Ninth-grade English teacher Ginger Mills said the building was beautiful. She was anxious and worried about setting up her classroom before the students arrived for classes.

“We are thrilled to get started. I had 64 boxes to unload,” Mills said.

Mills continued, “It is nice to be together as a faculty. I never saw some of my colleagues. We were so spread out.”

The new Cabot Junior High North is 127,282 square feet. It has 47 classrooms, five computer labs, nine science labs, three team rooms for teachers to meet, a counseling area, a health and nurse area, three art studios, a band suite and a choir suite.

The junior high will have seventh, eighth and ninth grades.

The school will have 105 employees, and approximately 65 will be licensed teachers. Approximately 1,172 students are expected to attend Junior High North this school year.

School Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman said the Junior High North has a metal roof, metal trusses and a fire suppression system.

The building is wired with motion sensors to operate the lights in the rooms. There is increased parking. With the new junior high, vehicles can drive on pavement all the way around the building.

The cafeteria will be the largest in the district until the new high school cafeteria is completed. The Junior High North cafeteria will be able to serve 600 students at one time.