Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TOP STORY >> Cabot school rises after fire

Leader staff writer

Students went to orientation and teachers put the finishing touches on their brand new classrooms at Cabot Junior High North on Tuesday as they prepared for the first day of school today.

“I am really excited for the parents and the kids, but what makes me happiest is not having the students in portable classrooms in the storm season during the spring,” assistant superintendent Jim Dalton said.

“For all practical purposes, it is complete,” he added. “We had the elevator inspection this morning and it passed.”

Today, students will be learning in the state-of-the-art $13.5 million, two-story building that replaces the original junior high that burned down in 2006. It brings to a close three years that teachers have been holding classes in portable classrooms and at the high school campus.

Many teachers said they were pleased with the new technology and ample space of the building.

Ben Lippert, a seventh-grade ancient-world history teacher in his second year at Cabot Junior High North, said being in the new building is a welcome change. He taught in Wisconsin for six years before teaching in Cabot and is looking forward to teaching with additional technology in the classroom.

“Everyone here is excited for the new building. I’m very impressed with the new technology and the features of the classroom,” he said.

“We have a new audio system. Everything we say is amplified by speaker. The kids won’t have to strain to hear us,” Lippert said.

Lippert continued, “I like everything about this school after being in the trailers last year. This is just nice to come home and have everyone in the same building. It will help improve the education for our children.”

Susan Buntin is a seventh-grade science teacher who is in her first year of teaching at the junior high. She taught at Cabot Middle School South last year and is also excited to be in the hi-tech school.

“I think the technology we have here is really awesome. The classroom has lab facilities and everything we need as far as I can tell. The lab is easy to work with,” Buntin said.

Katherine Karkkainen teaches art history and studio art. She has taught at Junior High North for eight years.

“The art room is fabulous. I love my room. It is nice, big and light feeling. The openness and brightness makes you feel happy,” Karkkainen said.

She said the room has an inviting atmosphere. The room is more open than the one she taught in at the original junior high. Karkkainen said while the junior high was under construction, ninth-grade classes were held in different buildings on the high school campus.

“It will be nice to be under one roof. We’ll feel more cohesion instead of being spread out. It’s kind of like, ‘The Jeffersons’ We’re movin’ on up,” she said.

Eighth-grade English teacher Jordan Collier is in his fifth year teaching in Cabot. It is his second year at Cabot Junior High North. Before that, he taught for three years at the Alternative Learning Environment building.

“It’s awesome. I’m excited for the kids to have an actual school building. You have a better sense of community,” Collier said.
Chuck Martin of Cabot brought his daughter, Ashley, a seventh-grader at the school, to orientation.

“It is very pretty and beautiful,” Ashley, 12, said about the new school. “I am overwhelmed at how big it is. It could be a high school.”

Chuck Martin said three years ago his oldest daughter was picking up her schedule for school when the fire broke out. He said the new school is bigger and has the opportunity to accommodate more students if needed.

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 center, a health and a nurse area, three art studios, a band suite and a choir suite.

The junior high will have 105 employees. Approximately 65 of those will be licensed teachers. Around 1,172 students are expected to attend the junior high. The school holds seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade classes.

The cafeteria is the largest in the district. The Junior High North cafeteria will be able to serve 600 students at a time.

Other new features include motion detectors in the classrooms that will control lights to save energy.

The school will have increased parking. A new driveway was constructed to provide access all the way around the junior-high building. The school has a metal roof, metal trusses and a fire-suppression system.