Middle school to enter a new era with staff finally all under the same roof.
By Paul Batterson, WCS Contributing Writer
The first day of school is typically a day of new beginnings, but principal Tammi Evans believes that Worthington Christian Middle School will be entering a whole new era on Aug. 17.
The first day of school this year will be the first time in 27 years that the entire middle school will be under one roof. The middle school is moving out of the modular buildings that housed sixth-grade classrooms, administrative offices, and the library and moving into new space acquired from Grace Polaris Church.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,” Evans said. “I know our teachers are excited and I’m sure our students will be as well to be out of the mods. I can just hear the kids chanting, ‘No more mods! No more mods!’”
The closure of the mods is another big step in the Forward. Together. capital campaign. The school is nearing the end of phase one of the project that will result in a new high school.
WCS reached an agreement with Grace Polaris Church that allowed the middle school to move into the DeArmey wing of the church. David Myhal, the (volunteer) chairman of the capital campaign, hopes that completing this step will be a “shot in the arm” to the Forward. Together. campaign.
“We have whittled $8.3 million we needed to raise down through some creative negotiating and changes in plans,” Myhal said. “Getting this step of the project done will go a long way to getting us to the finish line. We’re very hopeful that with this, we can (finish raising) the rest of the money necessary to start the actual construction of the new high school. That’s our ultimate goal.”
Head of School Troy McIntosh said the agreement with the church allowed WCS to reduce the remaining need and how much we must raise down to $1.8 million to break ground on the new high school.
“This (move) came about because there are a lot of people who love Worthington Christian and were generous in their contributions,” McIntosh said. “We certainly sense there’s a finish line now in view.”
McIntosh recalls that when he first became involved with the school in 1994, the mods were viewed as a temporary solution for a growing school population.
“We were all looking forward to the day we wouldn’t need the mods anymore,” McIntosh said. “The fact that the day is here when we won’t have the mods anymore is one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced in my tenure.”
Science and Social Studies teacher Ruth Beschta had been working at the middle school for two years when the school constructed the mods. When they were first built, the mods were two separate buildings and students had to go outside to go from one mod to the next. Over the years, the school constructed an enclosed hallway between the two buildings.
“When they were new, they were nice. But they are definitely worn out and have seen their time,” she said. “Over the last three or four years, I became aware how much we needed to move. The windows in my room were in bad shape. The integrity of the walls and the doors had been lost. We just needed to go.
“I know people are excited that we are moving out of the modules but people seem to forget how excited we were when we moved into them too. God provided the modular buildings 27 years ago, and we taught there for a long time. He has provided for us each step of the way.”
The physical condition of the modules was only part of the problem. Another issue was their location. Students often carried all their books for the day because they had to transfer from one building to the other. Often students had to slosh through the snow or rain between classes.
Although the mods were over a football field away from the other classrooms, it often felt like they were in another time zone. The gap, according to Evans, hindered a sense of unity among the teachers.
“To build relationships, you need to be together,” Evans said. “We were living separately as two different groups of teachers, and yet we were one middle school. It’s going to be great for the students to see the interaction among our teachers.”
“It was hard to be separated from my colleagues,” Beschta added. “We worked very hard on being unified, but in reality, we were separated. We are all excited that we can be in the same building.”
Being two separate buildings also was a security concern. Students had to be buzzed into the main building when they left the mods. Having all the classrooms under one roof now means students will be better protected.
Evans looks forward to a simpler working environment this fall. ‘
“We had to deal with what we were given. You laugh about it,” Evans said. “The teachers that have been here awhile are on Cloud Nine. We had been blessed with the mods for over 20 some years but now that we are all under one roof, how do you stop from smiling?”