On-site experience

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Mario Zavala/Courtesy photo
Stephens Elementary School students Haden Hoagland, left, Mitchell Case and Nicole Schroeder listen to an explanation of how the heating and air conditioning system will work at Myers Middle School on Monday. The children are part of the school’s student planning committee, which is composed of incoming Myers sixth-graders from six Denton elementary school campuses.

Students get rare insight on building of middle school

Some current fifth-graders, who will attend the new Myers Middle School next fall, are getting access to the school that few receive.

This week the Denton school district allowed a team of students to participate in the school’s planning and design discussions. Between now and the end of school year, four to six fifth-graders attending feeder elementary schools — Stephens, Pecan Creek, Evers, Hodge, Wilson and Rivera — are being invited to attend Myers Middle School job site meetings.

Students selected to participate are tasked with touring the campus, keeping their classmates and community informed on the school’s progress, asking the builders questions and bringing their own ideas to the table.

Construction at Myers Middle School, located in Shady Shores adjacent to Stephens Elementary School, is slated for completion in late July, and the school will open the following month for the 2013-14 school year.

“We really wanted to create interest in the school, excitement in the community,” Principal Angela Ricks said. “We didn’t want to just let it be a tool for excitement but a learning opportunity for the students as well, which is why we incorporated careers and all that goes into building the structure, including the measurements and entry-level positions all the way up to college-level positions. So it’s a great learning opportunity for the kids but it’s also helping with that transition of going into a new school from wherever they are, creating that excitement and instilling some pride in their campus.”

Last month, the district called for fifth-graders who will attend Myers Middle School next fall to apply for participation in job site meetings.

On Monday, four students from Stephens Elementary School were among the first from the district to tour the campus. They sat in on a meeting with the construction team on the facility’s progress. They asked questions about the school, such as the size of lockers and gyms, whether the school was tornado safe or had storm shelter rooms, whether the school would have back-up generators, when the school will open, whether the school had environmentally green features and whether power lines on Garza Road have been a concern to the construction team.

Students documented the answers from the construction team and intend to share what they’ve learned with their peers, according to district officials. Students also used iPads to create a photo record of their tour.

“I’ve never been on a tour like that,” said Mitchell Case, a fifth-grader at Stephens Elementary. “It was like the time of my life in there. One thing, I’ve never really been on a construction site that busy.”

It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance being one of the first to enter Myers Middle School while still under construction, said Nicole Schroeder, another Stephens Elementary fifth-grader.

Campus officials coordinated with district curriculum officials to discuss what fifth-graders are learning in class, and with the information gathered, math and science exercises were created for students’ on-site visits.

“We incorporated some aspects of what they’ve learned and are learning in math and science, which is the surveying, the multiplication, the measurements that we did throughout this project, so they had to do multiplication in figuring out how many bricks cover an entire wall,” Ricks said.

The visits are also an opportunity to introduce children to careers in the construction field. Getting to work with students, many who have no idea of what goes on in the construction industry, is part of Dallas-based Balfour Beatty Construction’s “program of working with communities and integrating our work environment as part of our community relations,” said Garry Ryan, senior project manager.

“I think the biggest thing was just to introduce them to our industry,” he said. “It’s a very dynamic industry. … Millions of people work worldwide in our industry. We want to let them know that this is an opportunity they can consider as they grow in their educational endeavors.”

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com .

 


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