Teachers and staff stood in a line outside Kewaskum Middle School, waving to students as they left the building for the final time on Friday, May 25. When students return in the fall, they will attend a brand new middle school, attached to the north side of the existing high school.
Both the teachers and the students are looking forward to having a new school. “There is not a part of this building I am sad to see go. I can take all the memories of this building with me over to the new one,” said Nikki Airaudi, who has taught at Kewaskum Middle School for the past 20 years.
Macy Reysen, who completed sixth grade last week, thinks the new school will be a huge improvement. “I’m really excited to have actual walls that aren’t cardboard,” Macy said. The New Middle School During the last week of school, students got a sneak peak into what the new school will look like.
Doug Franzen, facilities director for the school district, gave classes tours of the new 85,000-square foot building that is currently under construction. Students were impressed. “It looks like a shopping mall,” marveled Tristen Ries, who is going into seventh grade.
In the center of the new middle school are oversized steps that can be utilized as a learning space as well as a traditional staircase. A large skylight is located above the stairwell and central gathering area. Interior walls are made of glass to allow the natural light to flow from the skylights into classrooms.
“It is very important to have natural light in the classrooms. There have been so many studies and so much data that shows natural light affects how fast you learn and how well you comprehend,” Franzen said.
In addition, the windows will allow teachers to keep an eye on students when they are in the hallways, according to Franzen. The current middle school library has no windows. In contrast, the new middle school has floor to ceiling windows along three exterior walls. A courtyard is being built between the middle school and high school to allow more natural light into both schools.
Tiered steps on the courtyard join the middle school to the high school, which have a seven-foot elevation difference. The entrance to the new middle school is being constructed to increase security, with two sets of doors that visitors will need to go through before they can be allowed into the building.
Lockers will be located in a bay near a charging station for Chromebooks. The new middle school cafeteria will feature round tables so that the area will be less institutionalized and have more of a “coffee shop” feel. The Old Middle School The old Kewaskum Middle School opened on Monday, November 11, 1974, when seventh and eighth grade students began attending there.
At that time, the building was a new 47,900 squarefoot middle school building designed to hold 325-500 students. When it opened, the middle school housed approximately 330 seventh and eighth grade students. During its final year, in 2018, the school held 360 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades Before the school opened, grades seven and eight shared the high school building with the high school students since the 1972-73 school year, a little over two years.
During that time, students in those grades attended school on a split shift, with a five-hour-a-day basis. When the middle school opened in 1974, the school hours changed so that high school and middle school classes ran from 7:45 a.m until 2:45 p.m., and elementary classes began at 9:05 a.m. and dismissed at 3:40 p.m.
The middle school was cited in the Kewaskum Statesman in 1974 for having a large, open classroom media center. Classes in English, social studies and math were held in the more open area. Enclosed space was provided for science, home economics, shop, art and music, as well as for students who needed special programming.
A gymnasium, shower and locker facilities, and a kitchen were all included in the building. The walls were built primarily of a tackboard material, so that the entire wall became a bulletin board. Floors in the main area and offices were carpeted, with Tarkett and tile being used in the remainder of the building.
Construction on the middle school lasted about one year. Total construction cost was $825,000. During that building project, the school district was able to build without paying prevailing wage rates. Construction workers brought the case to court, but the district prevailed at the county level and then at the state Supreme Court. In October 2012, a community committee was created to develop a strategic plan for the school district.
The following year, that committee morphed into a Vision Committee, which conducted a community survey in spring 2014. That survey led the district to begin a study of its facility needs. In 2015, a Long Range Planning Committee was formed to study the district’s facility needs.
The committee, which was made up of 57 parents, staff and community members, recommended to the School Board in July 2016 that the district go to referendum to improve the middle school and high school facilities. In November 2016, voters passed a $28.42 million referendum to improve the high school and middle school facilities. Demolition of the old middle school was scheduled to begin this week. The ground where the middle school currently sits will be replaced with a parking lot. On the north side of that will be new baseball and softball fields.