Meadow Glen Middle School received high marks during this week’s open house, with much of the praise coming from some of its toughest critics — the students.
Diner-style tables in the commons area and new iPads to take home were big draws among the seventh- and eighth-graders.
Even their parents were impressed.
“I think it’s great,” said Tracey Green, father of rising seventh-grader Colton Green. “I especially like this area,” he added, noting the open cafeteria and entryway.
It’s a lot different from the Upstate school he went to in the 1950s.
“Back then, you walked to everything,” he said. “This is more connected and the students seem more connected to everything.”
Lexington 1’s newest middle school, on a 44-acre campus across from Meadow Glen Elementary between I-20 and Sunset Boulevard, opened its doors Wednesday, along with the district’s other schools.
The first LEED-certified middle school for the district, the school is notable in the way it is designed and for its many environmentally friendly features, from the V-shaped awning over its front entrance, built to retain and funnel rainwater, to rooms that adjust temperature settings when not in use.
But the school, which has just over 800 students, also feels different in the way it functions, school administrators said.
“It has that small, college-campus feel,” said Meadow Glen Middle’s principal Bill Coon.
Coon, who also served as principal of Lexington 1’s Pleasant Hill Middle School before moving to Meadow Glen, said it was all designed to give the school a sense of community and connections with not only students but teachers.
“This is where they are going to spend a lot of their time with each other,” he said.
Smaller classrooms, for example — called “houses” — will promote a sense of teamwork and identity. The houses, which will seat about 20 to 24 students, have windows facing out into hallways and common areas. Doors can be opened to allow classrooms to spill out into the spaces and students to split into even smaller groups.
Over time, school officials said, it is their hope that each house will develop its own personality, songs and cheers.
“The houses are really going to be neat, because it’s going to build a sense of focus among the grades,” Green said.
In addition, Coon said the school will place an added focus on leadership, critical thinking and communication skills. Students, for example, will learn how to deliver a town hall-style meeting and will be responsible for leading portions of their own classes.
The school also is embarking on “project-based learning” beginning with a new class called iCivics. As part of the class, students will participate in a documentary highlighting social equity and civil rights in the United States.
As Coon told parents this week, the school, while brand new and exciting, is more than “bricks and mortar and a lot of glass,” noting it’s “what goes on inside that makes a difference.”
“This building will be here long after we’re gone,” he added, “but it’s the relationships that we build with our students and with each other that matter.”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.