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New Huntington middle school takes shape

Oct. 03, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Just as the future Huntington East Middle School building is taking shape, so is the transitional plan for its future students, faculty and staff.

Future HEMS school officials shared their plans for the transition and opening of the new school Tuesday evening during the regular meeting of the Cabell County Board of Education.

The construction of the school, along U.S. 60 and Norway Avenue, is expected to be completed by September 30, 2013, and most of the logistics of the transitional plan are based off that date, according to Mike O'Dell, assistant superintendent of operations.

The projected first day for students at the school will be in January 2014, on their first day back from Christmas break, so teachers and staff can move in and go through operations training.

Dry weather this past summer was beneficial to the construction schedule of the school, which is 45 percent complete, but crews still are running about three weeks behind, O'Dell said.

However, he said construction crews easily can make up the difference, especially once the school complex is under roof, a task he said should be completed by the end of November.

An aerial view of the construction showed the cafeteria of the school is ready for roofing, as is the future gymnasium of the school. There are two classroom areas that are nearly ready for metal sheeting, the final step before roofing takes place.

"We feel good about where we're at," he said. "What's important right now is making sure we get the building under roof before the weather gets bad. That will be crucial."

Adding to the development of the school, board members approved the hiring of two assistant principals for the school.

Current Enslow Middle School Principal Ryan McKenzie and Beverly Hills Middle School Assistant Principal DeLois Perry were hired for the positions.

They join current Beverly Hills Principal Frank Barnett, who will be the principal of HEMS when it opens.

Now that an administration is in place, the bidding process for teaching positions at the school can begin as early as next week, Barnett said.

Once hired, those teachers will begin packing, with the assistance of board employees, during the spring of 2013, and those materials will be moved to one of three places: The new school, Beverly Hills or Enslow Middle Schools.

Seventh- and eighth-grade teachers and students will begin the 2013-14 school year at Beverly Hills, and sixth-grade teachers and students will begin the year at Enslow, O'Dell said.

"We considered so many different options, but this is what we decided was best for the staff and the students," he said. "This way, we are incorporating staff and students together without having to use long term subs."

The students' first semester will take place in the respective schools, and the second semester will begin in the new Huntington East Middle School.

The timeline is similar to the transitional plan into Barboursville Middle School during the 2007-08 school year, O'Dell said.

The transitional plan also includes social events, including retreats and meetings for teachers to get to know one another, and student activities including field trips, dances and pizza parties after athletic events involving the two schools.

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