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By Nancy Leighton
At the June 22 Neighborhood Planning Unit W (NPU-W) meeting District I school board representative Leslie Grant announced that the Martin Luther King Middle School will reopen this fall.
The newly updated school building is covered with nearly white coating. Bigger vertical openings have been cut into the exterior walls of the building for new windows. The windows will go from floor to ceiling inside and have a smoky tint. The windows look black from the outside and a distinctive look is created by the contrast of black and white. There is a new two floor addition on the southeast corner of the building entirely clad with the floor to ceiling black windows. There is a new corner staircase just outside from this area. Another wide staircase connects the lower Hill Street parking lot with the upper north side of the building. There are newly planted trees throughout the grounds and parking areas, including several rows of trees parallel to Hill Street between Milledge Avenue and Orleans Avenue. New sidewalks have also been poured on Hill Street.
The original King Middle School building was built about four decades ago. It was made of poured concrete or pre-cast concrete panels. There were few windows and it had the appearance of a gray fortress prison. It was designed to be what was called “an Open School” with large rooms where several classes were supposed to receive instruction at the same time. Natural light came into the classroom from skylights in the roof.
From the beginning there were problems. Many people in the same room made it difficult for teachers to give instructions and even harder for students to focus on learning. After that it was a series of experiments to reduce the noise problem: Various partitions were tried along with curtains, carpet, upholstered furniture, and acoustic panels. The sound traveled around the big rooms bounced off the walls and back into the center of the room.
There was a previous remodeling of the building about 10 to 15 years ago. At that time openings were cut in the exterior concrete walls for windows. The windows installed at that time looked like something someone would buy at a home center to put in the side of a garage. It didn’t offer a welcoming sight any better than to plain concrete did.
This redesign has been in the planning phase for many years. When the students, faculty, and staff finished the 2013-2014 school year they knew that they would be starting fall of 2014 at the old Coan Middle School on Hosea Williams as a temporary location until the Martin Luther King Middle School could be completed
Earlier in the summer Atlanta School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen announced that the expanded Martin Luther King Middle School would be used as a center for exposing middle school aged students to technology with the view of preparing them to adapting and creating the technologies of the future.
The Porch Press volunteers and board members wish the students of King Middle school and all the schools in our part of town an interesting and successful 2016-2017 school year.