The new Dawson County Middle School opened its doors to students and faculty for the first time in August 2008.
The decision to build a new school site for Dawson County Middle School came as a result of good timing and desperate need, according to school officials.
“It was the only feasible time in the next few decades that we could efficiently build and get everyone moved around,” said Director of Facilities and Maintenance Stacy Gilleland.
From the 1930s until 1985, the Dawson County Middle School had shared its site with the county’s elementary and high school.
Robinson Elementary split off in 1985, and Dawson County Middle School finally debuted as the solo school on the original school site in 1997, after the new Dawson County High School building opened.
The original school building was constructed in 1954 and the Main Hall building was added in 1963. As a result of the deteriorating infrastructure, the costs of upkeep were astronomical, according to Superintendent Nicky Gilleland.
Over 10 separate buildings had once stood on the site where the middle school now stands.
Several buildings were built to accommodate immediate needs, but were not connected with the others. When the high school and elementary schools branched off, students who attended Dawson County Middle School were spread out over the property.
“The plumbing was going. There were too many separate buildings where people had to walk outside to travel between; security-wise, it was a nightmare,” said Stacy Gilleland.
Making its debut in the fall of 2008, the new Dawson County Middle School is a state of the art facility.
“Ceramic tile throughout the building, energy efficient windows, an auditorium large enough to fit about 400 students are just a few things that make this such a nice facility,” said Dawson County Middle School Principal Mark Merges.
“The layout of the school is really open and has a real nice feel to it,” added Merges.
Each classroom is equipped with a projector and pull-down screen, and several (classrooms) have interactive boards.
Interactive boards are some of the latest technology in classrooms today. They allow teachers to project programs from their computer screens, and students are able to write on and touch the screen to enhance learning.
For example, math problems can be solved on the board, saved to the teacher’s Web site, and can be accessible to students outside of the classroom.
The band and chorus programs at the middle school have greatly benefited from these new interactive boards.
Using a program called Smart Board, all students in the classroom are able to see music projected onto the board without an overhead machine or instructor standing in the way.
Students are able to hear the music, play along with accompaniment, play their specific part, and also record sections of music that can be played back in order to iron out mistakes more productively.
“We are on the cutting edge here,” said Dawson County Middle School Band and Chorus Director Rick Land. “We are showing other schools about Smart Board, when in the past it has been the other way around.”
Faculty and administration alike of the new middle school are proud of the new facility and thankful for how well the county was able to improve the previous conditions.
“Neither of the middle schools in the county are very big, and we like it that way,” commented Superintendent Gilleland. “We hope that Dawson County will continue to grow, and this new facility is really going to allow us the room.”
Although very proud of the new building for the middle school, the school board wanted to keep the heritage of the school and the site alive. Bricks from the “old middle school” are displayed in the hallway near the front office along with pictures that feature the history of the school and the site as well.
Dawson County Middle School may look new in many ways, but it will remain true to its “old school” heritage, according to school officials.
E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at email@example.com.