Nearly two months into the school year, students at Red Bank Middle School are still learning their way around the open, airy high school building that opened in August.
When a visitor asked for the office, a sixth grader declined to offer directions, explaining that every time she looked for the office she took the wrong hall.
Beautiful blues, one of the school colors, are complimented by pastels along the wide open halls that house more than 300 students. The 166,340 square-foot two-story building is built for 765 students and cost $29.6 million to build.
Open stairways and a first floor plan open to the two-story ceiling along the spine of the building creates a light, uplifting environment. Maybe not words that a couple of sixth grade boys would use but they both agreed their new school is much cooler than the older schools where they completed fifth grade.
Students may not be able to verbalize the impact of their new classrooms and adults may not want to say that a building can impact learning. But a recently released study from the University of Salford in Britain talks about the effect of a positive environment:
". . . yet to be understood or even much considered is the role, if any, that the school building itself plays in student success. A new study out of Britain suggests that the classroom environment — defined as classroom orientation, natural light and noise, temperature and air quality, color usage, organization flexibility of space and storage facilities — can affect a child’s academic growth by as much as 25 percent in a year," according to a report posted in http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2013/01/16/does-the-school-building-itself-play-a-role-in-student-achievement/
Along with Ooltewah Elementary, which also opened this year, the new middle school is one of eight new buildings the Hamilton County Department of Education has added over the last 10 years, according to Gary Waters, schools assistant superintendent.
As the district replaces old buildings and adds new ones, administrators look for ways to create better learning environments and more environmentally efficient buildings, Waters said.
The newest schools are equipped with geothermal heating and cooling, exterior LED lighting and one to one wireless access throughout the buildings.
The district has 78 schools serving around 8,000 students.