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Students ready for new year, new classrooms




Hays Middle School students aren't the only ones excited about the new classroom addition.

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Hays Middle School students aren't the only ones excited about the new classroom addition.

Marilyn Engel, sixth-grade language arts and reading teacher, loves her new classroom.

"They are big, and airy, and bright. I'm very excited to get to teach in here," she said.

Across the hall, Sherry Nelson also has been busy getting her new classroom ready for students.

Nelson worked as a Hays USD 489 substitute teacher for five years before being hired this year to teach sixth-grade science and health.

"It's wonderful," she said of the new classrooms. "It's nice to have something new and fresh and good looking."

She'll teach four sections of sixth-grade science and a nine-week health class to all sixth-grade students.

Before moving to Hays, Nelson taught fourth and fifth grade at Garden City.

She's been sorting through stored boxes of teaching material, getting out those focusing on science and communications and the "knickknacks kids give you."

The addition is built to Federal Emergency Management Agency specifications and functions as the school's storm shelter.

It's important to "make certain that we can clear the area quickly should we be having other students come in," Nelson said.

As Engel and Nelson were getting their classrooms ready, students checked out the new facility during enrollment Tuesday.

"We've been very busy already this morning," HMS Assistant Principal Shannon Demel said mid-morning. "We had people waiting at 8 o'clock to get started. As long as we can get them logged in, the actual enrollment part of it is going very smoothly."

The excitement is double for sixth-graders. Not only is it their first year of middle school, they are starting in new classrooms.

Their lockers and core academic classes -- language arts, math, science -- are in the eight-classroom addition.

Sixth-grader Addie Braun is happy to have classes in the addition, but a little disappointed at the beige lockers. Lockers in the building's oldest core section are a colorful variety.

"I kinda wanted a colored locker," she said.

They might not be new or storm-shelter rated, but the classrooms in the older section are emptied and given a thorough cleaning, and the floors waxed in preparation for the school year, said Tom Fross, HMS head custodian.

Demel said all of the students -- sixth, seventh and eighth grade -- have been walking the halls "because we had teachers move rooms because of the addition. Everyone is checking out the building."