An earlier version of this story appeared in The Almanac.
As students settle back into the rhythm of school this year, there are a few obvious differences around campus. M-A boasts several new buildings and amenities that are just now being completed as part of the district facilities master plan. While students might be most excited about the spacious new bathrooms, the campus is full of all kinds of updates, from a new kitchen to a whole new wing of classrooms.
Most notably, the brand new, two-story Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) wing, or S-wing, now rises above the tennis courts just beyond the green. Although some classes like physics and environmental science have yet to enjoy their new lab space, the S-wing promises state of the art facilities that will allow these lab-based courses plenty of opportunities for hands-on experiments. The building is the centerpiece of M-A’s extensive construction.
It has not been an easy first couple of weeks for some teachers who have had to make do without lab equipment or science classrooms. AP Environmental Science (APES) teacher Andrea Penglase said, “One difficulty was rounding up supplies for regular classroom needs like a stapler, hole puncher, tape. These supplies were boxed up and in limbo between my old classroom and new. A stapler may seem like pretty low priority but when you need one to keep students’ papers together and organized, there isn’t a great substitute. Also, as a science teacher, it was difficult to not do any labs right away…I do want to thank all of the people on campus that tried to make our stay in the wrestling room more accommodating for the students. It was truly a team effort between my science colleagues, custodians, the P.E. department, the IT team for getting the smart board up and running, the wrestling team, and admin. Also shout out to the students in my APES and biology classes for being flexible making the temporary setting work!”
Most classes hope to move into their new rooms soon. Penglase will be moved into the S-wing starting Monday, and said, “I am very excited to move into the new building! The new room is fully equipped with sinks, gas, and large lab benches. Lance Powell and I will share a prep room in between the two classrooms and will be able to streamline shared lab resources for science classes. We are also hoping to showcase student work from APES outside and around the new building after we get settled in. I also anticipate a creative buzz around the building once the maker space, physics labs, and culinary arts classes are in full swing.”
As Penglase mentioned, the S-wing includes a new home for Food and Nutrition classes and a new Maker’s Space for student access. The large new restrooms address M-A’s often-cited need for more bathrooms, and a new kitchen “will provide a hot and cold food bar with some self-service options,” said Vice Principal Janelle Bugarini. Students continue to enjoy the newly improved guidance office.
All this construction comes as part of Phase 2 of M-A’s Facilities Master Plan, and there will be continued updates such as new lockers, more bike storage, and improved student services accommodations. An update to the Facilities Master Plan in June 2016 lists funded Phase 2 projects at just over $20 million.
M-A has several projects lined up for the next few years, but for now, students and staff can enjoy top-notch facilities at almost every turn.