New Crain's Creek School Is State-of-the-Art
Education is changing, and Moore County's two newest schools - West Pine Elementary and Crain's Creek Middle - have been designed to meet those changes, while incorporating "green" aspects into their design. This is the first of two articles on the new schools.
Crain's Creek Middle will be a true community school, says Principal Rose Cooper "a school where students want to come every day, where parents feel welcome."
Since leaving Carthage Elementary March 1 and coming on board officially as principal of the new middle school, Cooper has been totally immersed in "building" her community school - not with bricks and mortar, of course.
Instead, she is carefully erecting a vision for the new school, and, as she describes it, that vision can only be realized when all of pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly.
"The most important piece of the puzzle is staffing," she said, "that is, the people who are the best fit for Crain's Creek Middle."
Teachers from New Century Middle, as well as other schools throughout the county, were given the opportunity in January to express an interest in relocating to the new school. Cooper has been reviewing those applications and conducting interviews.
"The middle school years are transition years for our students, not only as it relates to academics and school, but to the students' social and emotional development as well," she said. "Utilizing a team concept, teachers will work with a smaller number of students, get to know the students on a more personal basis, and collaborate with other teachers within their team to support each student's academic, social and emotional needs."
Helping in the Transition
When students progress to high school, they are in a -different environment and structure than that of lower grades. Cooper said Crain's Creek Middle will be designed to move students from the elementary level to the high school level with greater fluidity.
"For example, sixth-graders will have two to three core teachers each," Cooper said. "This does not include elective classes they may attend such as art, music, physical education, etc. In seventh grade, each student will have three core teachers, and in eighth grade, they will have four teachers to help them transition into the demands of high school."
As Cooper described her vision for the new school, she emphasized the importance of providing a variety of opportunities for students.
"If we provide the right kinds of opportunities, students will take advantage of them and grow," she said. "Clubs, for example, allow students to expand academically, explore new interests and interact toward positive goals with other students. We hope to offer other extracurricular activities such as Beta Club, Science Olympiad, Artalympics and Battle of the Books, to name a few. However, we will also offer clubs specific to our school in such areas as science, art, physical fitness and more."
Speaking of physical fitness, Crain's Creek's interscholastic sports will be diverse and aimed at providing athletic opportunities for as many students as possible. Cooper said she is coordinating efforts to offer football, boys' and girls' soccer, softball, baseball, basketball, wrestling, tennis, volleyball and cheerleading.
Of course, the majority of her work during these preparatory weeks has focused on the opportunities students will have in the classroom.
"We're looking closely at curriculum materials that will maximize instruction, and we will have the latest technology available to enhance our instructional programs," she said.
Cooper insists that opening a new school is one of the most exciting opportunities anyone can be given in education.
"We have an opportunity with a new school to envision and realize a place that is unique, a place that has its own identity and personality," she said, "one that nurtures a hunger for learning and opens its doors and arms to parents and the community. Yes, I'm excited because I know, without a doubt, Crain's Creek Middle is going to be a great school in every respect!"
Crain's Creek Middle School will welcome 400 students this fall from three schools - fifth-graders from Cameron Elementary and Vass-Lakeview Elementary, who will comprise the school's sixth-grade class in 2010-2011, and a portion of the sixth- and seventh-graders from New Century, who will attend the new school as seventh- and eighth-graders next year.
The new $14 million facility, which is at 4625 Union Church Road near Vass, consists of 89,000 square feet, which, in addition to 20 classrooms, also includes a gymnasium, cafeteria, multi--purpose room, media center and space for physical education, band, art, music, career and technology education, special education and more.
On the grounds are a football/soccer field, baseball/ softball field and tennis courts for the school's athletic programs.
Reflection and the Future
Superintendent Susan Purser mused about a recent visit to Crain's Creek Middle School when she saw the plaque that is placed in the entry hallway of all new schools.
"On the plaque are the year of construction, the names of the architectural firm, the contract, and the School Board members," she said. "Then I noticed my name!
"It actually took my breath away for a moment as I thought about this school -serving the community for possibly the next 50 years, the teachers who would work here, the students who would study and learn here, the life and learning that would take place within these walls - and even what it may look like 20, 30 or even 50 years from now."
Over the past couple of years, she said, school officials have talked quite a bit about the construction of these schools.
"And certainly schools are designed to meet instructional needs," she said. "However, it was suddenly much more evident than ever before that it's not about bricks and mortar. It's much bigger than that. It's about the future of our children - and their children - and possibly their children, as well. ...
"It's an awesome feeling, and I know that everyone who walks into these schools in the coming years and sees students hard at work on their futures will feel the same pride and satisfaction."
Tim Lussier is adviser for -community relations for the Moore County school system. The next story in this two-part series on new schools deals with West Pine Elementary.
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