New middle school engages students
Principal Annikke Olson hasn't seen any sad faces since Meridian Creek Middle School opened doors on Aug. 29.
"Kids are excited to walk in. I love that on day one, we invited kids into our building and into our learning space, (and they) had smiles on their faces," said Olson. "They're excited about coming in and engaging in learning."
After about three years, the entire project, expected to cost just slightly more than $40 million, is nearly completed. Though classes are in session, both outside and inside construction is still underway. With a track and field set to be finished this spring, indoor finishing touches are undisruptive, taking place outside school hours.
The H-shaped school offers a new and modern learning environment. The school is split into two wings: the academic wing and related arts wing, which houses classes like band, drama and choir.
The hub of the building is the media center, marked by a vibrant green grand staircase no one can miss. Just past this is a library with more than 8,000 books, and people standing in the middle of it can't help but notice the words of positivity splashed in blue on the walls.
"We honor multiple cultures and our language programs, which is why we chose words in English, Spanish and Chinese," Olson said. "Those are the three languages supported in our building, so that was an important thing for us."
Another interesting aspect Olson is excited about is their new makerspace — a hands-on space where students can build, design and explore ideas — which should be finished in the next week or so.
Attached to the technology classroom is a garage door that leads to the makerspace. Students in the technology class can then make their 2-D creations on the computer come to life through 3-D printing, or build them with tools and supplies. Olson said the makerspace could also be used for clubs like robotics or to test science experiments.
This is a place where students can think outside the box to create and explore ideas.
"There are makerspaces in other middle schools, but not necessarily as sophisticated," said Olson, adding that the idea came to fruition by student and staff input.
The newly constructed school offers several new amenities like a double-option stage that opens up to a smaller venue in the commons room and a larger venue in the gym.
But walking through the hallways while classes are in session, it's almost silent.
With an enrollment of about 350, Meridian Creek still has a good amount of room to fill until they reach their capacity of about 550 students.
"When the building is full there will be another phase eventually that will be added on and (we'll) get a whole other section of classrooms that are going to be built. The cool thing about that — obviously getting more classrooms is great — but the other thing is that it puts our library, media center, technology classroom and our makerspace truly in the center of the school as a hub, which is true to the West Linn-Wilsonville school design and philosophy," Olson said. "It will be interesting (to see) how long it takes for us to grow and to start having conversations about the addition."