New middle school begins to take shape

Amy Gubler, principal for the new Warren County Middle School, stands inside the library during a tour this week. The school is expected to be finished July 2017. Rich Cooley/Daily
A rear view of the new $33 million Warren County Middle School is shown. The school is under construction off of Happy Creek Road in Front Royal. The building's front will face Ewell Street. Rich Cooley/Daily
Construction crews start to bury the underground storm water detention facility on the property of the new Warren County Middle School under construction off Happy Creek Road in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily
A construction worker walks across the steel beams above the school's gymnasium. Rich Cooley/Daily
James Marstin, the construction representative for Warren County Middle School, walks through the hallway near the school's front entrance during a tour earlier this week. Rich Cooley/Daily
Construction workers walk through a hallway of scaffolding as the new Warren County Middle School progresses. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Masons, electricians and other workers have been raising the new Warren County Middle School on its site off of Happy Creek Road.

The initial groundbreaking ceremony was held for community members and future students on Oct. 13, and school administration recently reported that the building was about 39 percent complete.

Amy Gubler, who started her position as the new school’s principal July 1 after serving as principal at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School for a year, took her first of many tours of the site with James Marstin, the owner’s representative for the project. She said she’s going to try to visit the school site weekly.

“It’s so exciting, it’s such a great opportunity,” she said. “I can’t believe how much progress they’ve made, it’s great.”

The front entrance of the school, facing Ewell Street, leads into the round, central library. Guidance and administrative offices lie to either side of the entryway, with classroom hallways branching off from the library.

Gubler said the tentative plan is to have sixth grade core classrooms on the ground floor of one wing and seventh grade classrooms on the other side. The eighth grade hall will be on the second floor above the sixth grade, and other classrooms for subjects like foreign language will be above the seventh grade classrooms.

A bus entrance off of Happy Creek Road will lead behind the school to drop students off by the student commons area. Marstin said the area will serve as a cafeteria space with the food services part of the building nearby and will feature mobile seating and a stage. A full auditorium could be added to the building at a later date, he said.

When the schools awarded the construction contract to Howard Shockey & Sons Inc. with its $32,223,000 bid for the school, the auditorium was an add alternate option that would cost $597,000.

Rooms for woodshop, band and chorus lie on one side of the student commons area and the gymnasium with locker rooms and a smaller auxiliary gym on the other side. Marstin said that once the gym is under roof, it could be used as a weathertight storage space for perishable building materials and a staging area for other parts of the building.

According to the middle school timeline on Warren County Public Schools’ website, the building is expected to be under roof by October. Marstin said getting the building under roof will allow for interior work to be accomplished through any winter weather that may come. He said any days lost to weather so far have been made up.

With the brick facade exterior, Marstin said the building will end up having a classic overall appearance.

“That, with the traditional sloped roof, gives it more of the schoolhouse look,” he said.

Gubler said she’ll be busy ordering all the furniture and equipment this year, all the way down to the pencil sharpeners. She hopes to have staff hired and in place by December so that teachers from the existing middle school and high schools have time to think about and plan for the school year ahead.

She said she’ll likely be meeting often with Robert Johnston, principal of the current Warren County Middle School, to synchronize plans for the two schools.

“We want to have our schools equitable – we want to try to have similar schedules, similar course offerings, so that either middle school you go to, you’re going to get the same type of education.” she said.

Marstin said masons will start work on the second floor walls next week, and that the school is still set for substantial completion by June 2, 2017.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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