New school taking shape; students, staff endure construction

middle school aerial
This aerial shot taken by a drone primarily shows the kitchen and classroom sections of the now-under-construction Grand County Middle School. Courtesy photo

Hopes that started in 2012 are now becoming a reality. Construction on the new Grand County Middle School building is right on schedule and should be complete by Christmas 2020.

“There’s always challenges in construction projects,” said Grand County School District Business Administrator Robert Farnsworth. There have been small difficulties, but nothing they can’t handle. The overall cost will round out to a little over $36 million, which is what officials estimated at the start.

The most recent problem has been flooding in the parking lot. A plot map showed the high school drainage system going south, away from where contractors were digging. The construction team was excavating, and discovered a pipe. No one knew what it was until the area’s most recent snowstorm occurred. It turns out the pipe was drainage from the high school parking lot.

“The flooding was nothing more than cutting of that drain, not knowing it was on the map,” said Farnsworth. It has since been rerouted and everything is back to normal.

The construction of a new middle school building has also presented some challenges to current students and staff, but have been handled well, according to faculty.

“Sometimes there’s lots of noise, but I just push past it when it happens. I don’t make a big deal out of it because there’s nothing I can do,” said Kari Barnard, an English teacher at GCMS.

Barnard knows that the construction efforts will be worth it in the long run, and she doesn’t mind the small discomforts.

The view is obscured by constant construction, and sometimes the ground rattles, but students are not dismayed. “They keep chugging along like everything’s fine,” said GCMS teacher Dina Lance. Lance is constantly being impressed by the students’ ability to adapt. “I see a strength in these kids … who aren’t attached to the past, but are looking forward to the future,” she said.

Middle school construction interrupts lunch routines

Construction on the new Grand County Middle School has not gone without problems. One is that lunch is now served for students at the high school.

The seemingly simple location switch has caused a slew of problems. Because of the short time slot, students from the eighth and seventh grades were to eat together, where in the past they’d been separated, making it difficult to monitor.

“[Having] 250 kids to manage between four teachers during lunch is a lot for anybody,” said Kari Barnard, an English teacher at the middle school.

To help soothe the chaos, lunch now has a ten-minute rotation between classes.

The recreation area is also inadequate. No matter what adults say, middle schoolers still have energy they need to use in active engagement.

The new building will have a play field to help students burn excess energy before afternoon classes resume.

Julia Crane is a senior at Grand County High. She’s serving an internship at The Times-Independent.