1st look: See the radical make-over of Middletown High School

After a year of wading through construction dust, Middletown High School students will soon have a clear sight of some of their school’s historic renovations.

The $96 million project, which is expanding and renovating the high school and building a new, adjacent middle school, is nearing the end of the first of three construction stages.

When all Middletown students return to classes on Aug. 22, those at the high school will see a radically modernized building.

Many of the students will be learning in some of the most technologically sophisticated classrooms in the region. As the construction continues through the 2017-2018 school year, more student learning spaces and the county’s newest prep sports arena will open for use.

“Phase one of this project will bring on 30 percent of the new classrooms,” said George Long, business manager for the Middletown Schools.

“Literally since we started a year ago, construction hasn’t stopped. Phase two will go on through this school year and be completed as we go into next summer,” said Long, who said the largest and most expensive construction project in the district’s history is on budget and on schedule.

All the work on the new, 135,000-square-foot middle school — and the 2,200-seat arena attached to both schools — will be completed by August 2018, said Long.

The new gym will open in December with inaugural boys and girls basketball games.

The new middle school and high school renovation are the most visible parts of a new “Middie Modernization Movement” school officials are touting as a package of sweeping reforms to improve both the infrastructure and academic quality of the 6,400-student Butler County school system.

The district’s current Vail Middle School is the former Middletown High School, which opened in 1922 and is the oldest school in Butler County.

For the first time the high school will feature some of the most digitally enhanced classrooms in the region, open air learning pods, updated lighting, heating and cooling, improved building security, expanded and upgraded cafeteria and kitchen and a 200-seat community room to accommodate school and local organizations.

New Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. came away from a recent tour of the construction site impressed and confident the residents of Middletown will have the same reaction when they see the building’s on-going transformation during an upcoming open house Aug. 21.

“This is a construction project that is purely about our community,” said Styles, who in May was hired away from his roles as executive director of curriculum and instruction at Lakota Schools.

“This is about opportunities for students and opportunities for the community…with construction of a facility that prepares our students for the future,” he said.

“It creates an academic environment will kids can be successful,” he said.

The transformed high school and new middle school campus will double as a “community center” for moving the city’s next generation forward, he said.

“It will mean just as much to the community as it will to our students and staff,” said Styles.

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