New Middle Schools Open In Gibbs, Hardin ValleyPosted by Josh Flory on 8/9/2018
Cheryle Cox pulled into the car line more than an hour before the opening bell on Wednesday morning, but dropping off her son at the new Gibbs Middle School was worth the wait.
“I’m very excited,” Cox said. “We’ve been wanting this middle school for years, and we feel blessed to have (it).”
Knox County celebrated the opening of two new schools during the first official day of classes on Wednesday. Gibbs Middle opened with an enrollment of more than 550 students, while the new Hardin Valley Middle School opened with around 900 students.
And while the blank slate may have presented an occasional challenge, teachers and staff members at both schools were enthusiastic about the opportunity to build something special.
Cory Smith, the principal of Hardin Valley Middle, said the building’s culture is “super-positive right now.”
“Our staff’s going to focus on really building relationships with students and with the community and then just making sure we have the highest level of achievement for each student that we can possibly achieve,” he said.
At Gibbs, teachers and staff members were stationed at the building’s entrance and hallways, directing students to their classes, and occasionally re-directing those who took a wrong turn.
Assistant principal Kayla Montgomery said that in one sense, it’s helpful that everyone might seem a little lost.
“This is the first time everyone’s walked through this building, this is the first time we’ve had this many kids in the building at one time, so it’s new for everybody,” Montgomery said. “So everyone has a level playing field right now.”
It’s not just teachers and students who are adjusting. Amanda Leatherwood is the cafeteria manager at Hardin Valley Middle, and said it will take some time to figure out what students enjoy eating, or how long it takes them to go through the line.
On the other hand, she’s also getting the chance to try out some new equipment, including a hydrovection oven that can both steam and bake: “First time I’m actually using one of those,” she said.
On the menu? The first full day of classes on Thursday will include some familiar favorites: Pizza, PB&J sandwiches, chicken nuggets and ham chef salad, along with an assortment of fruit and veggies.
For at least one family, a new building was important enough to relocate. Dallas Burnette, whose eighth-grade son will attend Gibbs Middle, said Wednesday that they recently moved into Knox County.
“We wanted a better school … (We) knew the new school was here, so we moved down here just for that,” he said.