When students and teachers returned to school this year, they were greeted by newly renovated and reimagined teaching and learning spaces in both the Prince Building and the lower lever of the Carlin Building.
The modernized spaces represent the second significant phase of renovations for the Middle School. The first phase took place last summer with renovations to two classrooms in the lower level of Haynes and the creation of an expanded healthcare office for the school nurse to accommodate the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those classrooms were used for MS language classes this past year, but ultimately will be used for MS art classes. The Middle School renovation work will continue into this fall and winter as work crews move into the Allen Building with a goal of completely altering its interior space, alterations that will ultimately make Allen the centerpiece of a significantly expanded Middle School.
Meanwhile the renovated spaces in the lower level of Carlin provide Upper School students with a modern tutoring area and much needed breakout/study spaces.
The goal of all these renovations is to enhance Rivers’s Middle and Upper School programs, making them more conducive to 21st century academic needs, more reflective of the school’s interdisciplinary program, and better suited to collaboration and community-building.
The reconfigured Prince building now houses three classrooms, two of which are 50 percent bigger than the old classrooms and include breakout spaces to allow greater instructional flexibility. The exterior windows have been replaced with high-performance glass that admits plenty of daylight but improves insulation. A refreshed and reconfigured gathering space in the center of the building gives students and teachers an appealing place to convene and collaborate. New finishes, lighting, and furniture give the building a bright, clean look that echoes the feel of The Revers Center.
All told, the total cost of the Middle School renovation will be nearly $9 million, and in the opinion of Head of the Middle School John Bower, it is money well spent.
“I just had a chance to walk through the building and the classrooms are incredibly expansive,” he said, shortly after seeing the renovated spaces for the first time. “Additionally, the versatile furniture allows for a variety of seating configurations, promoting collaborative group work, and the whiteboard walls provide opportunities for students to be up and working actively out of their seats. There's just so much more breathing room. I look forward to seeing how the curriculum comes to life in these spaces that are now appropriately suited for the active Middle School students.”