Community Views Central Renovations

posted Aug 21, 2016, 9:38 PM by District Webmaster   [ updated Aug 22, 2016, 6:12 AM ]

Central Middle School held a public Open House on Sunday, August 21, 2016 to give community members the opportunity to see the nearly completed renovations at the school as it approaches the century mark.

In September 2013 voters passed, with 76% approval, a major bond issue to reconfigure the secondary schools. Grades 9 and 10 relocated to an expanded high school in 2015. That allowed Madison Middle School to be relocated to the former Mid-High/Sooner High campus. In turn, that allowed Central to be temporarily relocated across town throughout the 2015-2016 school year while the downtown campus was renovated. Staff began moving back into the renovated buildings on August 8, and classes began in the refinished classrooms on August 18.

Several hundred people attended an opening program in the completely renovated north building. Originally built in 1956 as a home economics and cafeteria building, the structure's exterior was rebricked in the mid-1990s to match the older buildings. The 2013 bond issue repurposed the entire building as a single large cafeteria/commons with kitchen, allowing the campus to finally have only three lunches, one per grade level, versus the five lunches it had to cram into the daily schedule before.

Speakers at the event included new Superintendent Chuck McCauley, who thanked former Superintendent Gary Quinn, school board members past and present, and voters for making the renovated school a reality. He was grateful to Central staff members for their tireless efforts to move to Madison in the summer of 2015 and move back to the renovated Central campus during the second week of August in 2016.

Central's principal, Ryan Huff, also thanked his staff members and told the public about his excitement at the opportunities the renovated campus will bring to students.

Architect Scott Ambler of Ambler Architects and Caleb Rovenstine of Nabholz Construction were thanked for their efforts to make sure the campus was ready for students this August, and both of those gentlemen made remarks.

Oklahoma House Representative Earl Sears, who taught at and was principal of Central for decades, also spoke. He shared the history of former board member Marta Manning's plan to save Central in the early 1990s and how that culminated in a much-needed renovation back then which now has been improved upon.

Principal Ryan Huff then cut the ribbon for the building, joined by Supt. McCauley, members of the Board of Education, Scott Ambler, Caleb Rovenstine, and Earl Sears. With that, the public was invited to tour the facility.

The most dramatic renovations were on the former basement level, now considered the first floor. This included the construction of a large new gymnasium at the southeast corner of the campus as the former basement and its gymnasiums and locker rooms were gutted and reconfigured. The unattractive "dungeon" of awkward corridors and entryways where the 1917 and 1926 buildings interfaced with their respective gymnasiums was transformed into attractive corridors leading to large fine arts classrooms in the former gym spaces. The area underneath the auditorium is now the office suite. Former shop space, that more recently had served special education classes, is still being rebuilt into Phillips 66 Innovation Labs, partially funded by a grant from Phillips 66 to build STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) facilities at each secondary school.

On the higher levels, all of the classrooms and corridors received new finishes and all of the lockers were replaced. All classrooms are now equipped with Promethean touchboards. On each of the 1917 building's three levels there are now two science rooms with a connecting stockroom. The former band room and other fine arts space above the auditorium has been reconfigured into additional Phillips 66 Innovation Labs, with another Innovation Lab nearby since the Gateway to Technology classes at the school have been doubled thanks to the renovation and the Phillips 66 grant.

The only area of the building that was not renovated by the 2013 bond issue was the 1926 auditorium. It was included in the renovations of two decades ago, but now needs new carpet, plaster and seating repairs, as well as balcony safety and stage audiovisual improvements. All of those are included in the bond issues going before voters on Tuesday, August 23. So Central may be seeing additional improvements in the coming years, as it enters its second century of use.
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Central Open House Slideshow

Central Middle School
The west facade of the recently renovated Central Middle School