The New Paducah Middle School reminds us of what it means to work for the common good
Kentucky is one of four states to describe itself as a “commonwealth.” The English word dates from the 15th century and means “public welfare, general good, or advantage.” The original phrase “the common-wealth” comes from the old meaning of “wealth” which is well being.
When motorists pass by the new Paducah Middle School, they see an impressive building. But the new school is much more than walls, brick, and mortar. It is a living testimony to what it means as citizens of Paducah to be members of a commonwealth.
The new school is the culmination of eight years of work. The Paducah Board of Education began gathering information about the need for a new middle school in 2005. The board had developed a funding plan for the school at a projected cost of 17 million dollars. The plan included state funds, but in 2010 all state funding for new school construction was dropped from the budget. Through the efforts of state senator Bob Leeper, funding was added at the last minute.
“That was a miracle,” said Superintendent Randy Greene at the groundbreaking for the new school in July, 2011, “but miracles do happen and we stand on the threshold of this exciting project.”
The result of this cooperative effort is a building designed to help students prepare for college and career for many years to come.
The new school is designed to be energy efficient. Geothermal heating and cooling, energy efficient windows and lighting, along with the use of foam-filled blocks in the construction of the exterior walls, will yield long-term savings on energy costs.
Safety for students, faculty and staff was a priority in the design of the new school. Wider stairwells provide more room for safe and orderly movement between classes. The front entryway has a set of double doors for increased security. Cameras installed throughout the school allow administrators to monitor every part of the building at any time.
Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades each have their own wing in the new school. Each class has an interactive PolyVision whiteboard that is connected via an LCD projector to the teacher’s computer. There are six science labs with water and gas access and four computer labs.
In the center of the new building is an interconnected gymnasium, auditorium and cafeteria. The lobby between the front offices and the gymnasium has a skylight and three flat screen televisions that will stream national and school news.
For all the assets that the new building has, however, it is the students, faculty, staff, and parents who walk through its doors that will give it life and move forward with the ultimate goal of producing educated citizens who can contribute in positive ways to their families and communities.
“To remind us of our mission, when you enter our school you see a large compass inlaid in the terrazzo floor,” said Paducah Middle Principal Tim Huddleston. “On the compass there is a degree marking for Paducah Tilghman High School, where all our students are headed. It is a great reminder of our daily mission to prepare our students for success at high school and ultimately college and career.”
While the compass points narrow the viewer’s focus, another subtle design feature throughout the new school broadens it.
Walk down the halls of the new school, or visit the gymnasium or cafeteria and you will see gentle blue curves on the walls and in the floors. The curves are reminiscent of the rivers that surround Paducah and its proud legacy of Art, Rhythm, and Rivers. Just as the rivers around us both connect us to each other yet also have the capacity to take us to distant places, so the collaboration between community, school, parents, and students that has brought the new Paducah Middle School to fruition will continue to breathe new life into the word “commonwealth” with the goal of launching our children successfully into the broader world.
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