The Owensboro Public Schools Board of Education is making plans to give Owensboro Middle School South a new look and, with that new look, a new identity as well.
The board discussed upcoming renovations expected for the south campus at Thursday’s board meeting. RBS Design Group will be executing the construction project as soon as OPS gets final approval from Kentucky Department of Education, which the board expects will happen sometime next week.
RBS project coordinator Jeremiah Hawkins said the renovations will create “a new identity” for the building. According to Hawkins, RBS’s three biggest focuses will be constructing a new canopy for the school’s front walkway, a new design for the front lobby and a renovated cafeteria.
The cafeteria will feature floor-to-ceiling glass paneling that Hawkins says will open up the space and give the school a bigger feel inside.
“We’re proposing the same kind of scheme for the classroom corridors—we’ll do various glass windows, more overhead the doors—really open the space and create some larger classrooms,” Hawkins said. “It’ll create more inviting spaces, collaborative learning spaces—keeping the kids engaged, classroom to classroom, as they’re walking by. But they can still be kept at a standard classroom size.”
Moreover, Hawkins said RBS will renovate the hallway ceilings by installing curved, wired metal panels along each corridor. The paneling will give each hallway a unique and modern look.
“There’s a lot we can do with that too,” Hawkins said. “We can change the color—that way, we could have a red hallway, a green hallway—there’s a lot of different things we can play with.”
The front lobby renovations include a circular desk that will allow the person working there to control the entryway doors, allowing visitors in and out of the building.
OPS’s Public Information Officer, Jared Revlett, said the renovations go deeper than surface value as OPS plans to create something similar to the Owensboro Innovation Academy (OIA) at the middle school level, thereby transforming OMS South into what the OPS school board will rename as iMiddle.
“It’ll be like a whole new type of school, like the Owensboro Innovation Academy,” Revlett said. “Their whole concept is that the space needs to be built around collaboration.”
OPS has found a lot of success in the focus on teamwork, hands-on projects and the implementation of advanced problem-solving techniques at OIA, Revlett said, expanding and challenging the minds of many of their students. With iMiddle, the concept will be more focused on good citizenship and peer collaboration.
“Not everyone learns the same way,” Revlett said, speaking in regard to lectures and lessons that are taught via a traditional classroom experience. “With this, they’re getting that hands-on experience. We’ve seen a lot of growth and success at OIA. We’re graduating our first class from there this year.”
iMiddle is not an expansion of OIA, Revlett said, rather a more of a middle school version of the concept. Students who attend iMiddle will not feed into OIA and will have the choice to attend Owensboro High School.
Revlett added that at iMiddle, OPS plans on transitioning the 6th and 7th grades to the new learning platform in its first year, and they will then include 8th grade in the second year.