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New Oltman Middle School opens for the start of the 2018-19 school year

Photo of Oltman exterior

On Tuesday, September 4 students were welcomed to the new Oltman Middle School for their first day of classes. More than 900 students in grades 6, 7 and 8 will learn in the new school.

The building was designed to enhance the learning experience for each student by sectioning the school’s teaching space into pods. In each pod, classrooms have a moveable wall that opens to a collaborative learning space with tables and comfortable seating arrangements.

“Students learn in a variety of different ways. By giving students and teachers more flexibility and options, we are allowing them to find the way that works best for them to learn,” said Oltman Middle School Principal Joni Hagebock. “We believe the one doing the talking is doing the learning. This design allows for more of our students to do the talking.”

While students will have ample space to work in their free time in the collaborative learning space of each pod, the school also features a media center. The media center, which features a large library, also includes a TV studio and makerspace with 3D Printers.

The school is also designed to give students opportunities to take part in the arts and athletics. For the arts, the school has a 400-seat auditorium and performing arts center, which will be open to the community for local theater group performances, and a full music suite, with spaces for choir, band and orchestra. For athletics, the school has a gym, with three full-sized basketball courts, fitness center, locker rooms and a pool, which will be the home to the East Ridge High School swim team.

One of the most eye-catching spots in the building is the cafeteria, with floor to ceiling windows and a variety of seating options for students ranging from traditional lunch tables to booths to high-top tables.

“The cafeteria is one of the spaces we’re most excited about. We want it to be a place where all of our students can feel comfortable and relax in their downtime,” said Hagebock.

The cafeteria is also the first place many visitors will see, as the activities entrance opens to the space. In addition, the cafeteria was designed to double as a space for athletics and after-school activities.

Technology is also an important part of the new school. Each teacher has a microphone to wear in class that is connected to in-ceiling speakers, to ensure all students can hear. All classrooms have SMART TV’s that act as whiteboards but can also be used to connect with a teacher’s laptop or student’s iPad to show a lesson or work in progress. Technology to increase school security is also in place, including security doors that can be closed with the switch of a button to seal off sections of the school.

The school was funded by community support of a 2015 Bond Referendum. The community is invited to see the new building at a Grand Opening Celebration on Sunday, September 23 from 2-4 p.m.