Hudson Middle School starts off school year in new building
This year, middle school students start their journey in a new environment. The construction of the new Hudson Middle School, which started with the groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 8, 2018, reached a conclusion in July 2020 when the occupancy permits were granted.
The process of constructing the 180,000-square-foot building began several years ago with a facility visioning process to consider the future of education and how the space could best support student learning.
Through creating a Staff Facilities Committee and Student Facilities Committee and hosting community forums, feedback and ideas were gathered. The Student Facilities Committee met monthly during the design phase with the architect and interior designers, tried out different furniture and layouts of the classrooms, and went through the building during the construction phase.
Officials say communicating with GPD, the architectural firm for the project, was crucial to the planning process. Groups of teachers from all departments, the district Facility Committee, and the Board of Education met with GPD and Hammond Construction to determine plans. As the building was being built, Hammond Construction also worked with teachers to design learning opportunities and site visits that supported the curriculum in different grade levels.
Each grade level — sixth, seventh and eighth — has its own wing and entrance to the building. Within the building, there are 11 Team Learning spaces, which contain flexible and comfortable seating, work spaces, and shared stage spaces with a projector and screen for class presentations or speakers. In total, there are just under 80 classrooms.
HMS Principal Kimberly Cockley found her favorite part of the building to be the Team Learning areas.
"And I have enjoyed watching our students and staff utilize those spaces for learning and collaboration. They have become a focal point for our teams to come together for our students to be connected with one another," she said.
Each grade level is divided into “teams” for collaboration, and the Hudson Middle School PTO gifted HMS with artwork for each grade level wing that complements the grade teams. The artwork is currently being developed by GPD and will be installed soon.
Features of the new building include a media center and connected Makerspace, a rooftop garden which classes are able to utilize in their learning, a two-tiered lunchroom with flexible seating options, two full-size soundproof gymnasiums separated by a partition wall, a weight room, and a wrestling gym.
The new one-story auditorium houses the same number of students as the previous two-story auditorium, and has a stage the same level as the entryway, making it accessible to all students.
Charlotte Wanders is a sixth-grade student at HMS and a participant on the Student Facilities Committee.
“I feel that the new building is even better than I imagined," she said. "When I walk in I cannot believe that this is my school. I really like how everything is spaced out and each grade has their own special section, plus the media center and lunch room are really spacious and have awesome light fixtures.”
Other areas include art classrooms equipped with large windows, designed as a display case for students to showcase their work. Additionally, the building houses a Life Skills area that helps students with specialized needs with a space that supports their learning of essential life skills, such cooking, laundry and caring for themselves.
While touring other new schools in Ohio, the Staff Facility Committee chose to incorporate several features they saw into the new HMS building, such as large garage door-like openings to each classroom, allowing flexible space and more light. With these, the classrooms are able to fully open up to the Team Learning areas outside.
Eighth grader Jack McCormick, also a member of the Student Facilities Committee who has taken drone photos of the construction site for the district, describes the garage-like doors as his favorite part of the school.
"The doors can be opened up for extra classroom space and an entry to the community learning area. As a result the inside of the school does not look like a traditional school with normal hallways and classrooms.”
Another feature is that Hudson Middle School has switched over from the traditional lockers with a physical lock, which were utilized in the previous HMS building, to mobile locker units, which are movable, lockless storage spaces for the students. They are housed in the Team Learning areas in full view of students and staff, and each mobile locker unit comes with a whiteboard on the backside, which teachers are able to use.
“It is our students who make our building feel like a school," Cockley said. "What an honor it has been these past few weeks to see our students live and learn in this new space.”
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