Star Middle School Ribbon Cutting Welcomes Students to Campus
August 30, 2018 – Star Middle School celebrated the grand opening of their campus at a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted August 21. School Bond 2015 funded the construction of this new school, providing the northwestern portion of the school district with much-needed space for middle school students.
In his speech at the ribbon cutting ceremony, Principal Tony Nelson shared one of the key words in the new school’s mission statement is partnership. “I want to draw the community in and give them a hub, give them a place to connect whereas before they had to drive elsewhere for this experience.”
The first of many community partner programs to come is already underway. Local first responders are planning a night this fall where they demonstrate their skills, show off industry equipment, and share information about their roles in the community.
A School in Their Own Backyard
The students of Star Middle School are seriously engaged – of the nearly 600 students enrolled, about 150 are participating in after school activities this fall like volleyball, football and cross country.
“These kids have buy-in at Star Middle School, and I believe it is because they have a school in their backyard they can call their own,” Nelson shared. “Beyond the after school activities though, we have most of the electives available at our other area middle schools and look forward to adding more specialties in the coming years.”
The Board of Trustees approved the school’s attendance area at its January 16, 2018 regular Board meeting. District staff and community volunteers worked over the course of five months developing the Star Middle School attendance area.
“Redrawing attendance areas in West Ada because of the continually increasing enrollment that inevitably causes schools to have more students in their attendance area than they were built to accommodate,” Chief Communication Officer Eric Exline explained. “This process is always concerning to parents largely, in my experience, because they really like the school that their children attend.”
Timeline of attendance area development:
- September 2017 – Information meetings hosted at middle schools. Committee of parents and community members formed to work on attendance area changes.
- October, November and December 2017 – Committee developed and presented initial attendance area proposal. Based upon feedback, committee revised attendance area proposal.
- January 2018 – Committee presented attendance area proposal at last public hearing early in the month. Based on more feedback, committee revised attendance area proposal. Committee presented attendance area proposal to Board of Trustees. Board of Trustees approved attendance area.
“With the opening of Star Middle School, Eagle Middle School’s enrollment this fall is under its capacity for the first time in many years,” Exline shared. “Last year Eagle Middle, which is built for 1000 students, had nearly 1300 students enrolled. In addition, Heritage Middle School’s enrollment is about 100 students lower than it would have been without the opening of Star.”
School Construction and Future Growth
LCA Architects designed and ESI Constructors built the new school. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Joe Yochum anticipates the final project cost coming in under the $30 million budget.
“Looking toward the future, just north of Star Middle School we have the space for an elementary and high school. West Ada owns 117 acres of land there, and only 28 of those acres were used for the Star Middle School campus,” Yochum explained. “With the rate of growth in our district, there is a strong likelihood we could have those two structures built within the next decade.”
Nearly two decades ago, West Ada School District leadership made the decision to build middle schools utilizing a standard blueprint. Alterations to the blueprint better suit the needs of the campus position on the property. Facility changes at Star Middle School included more shade and window covers on the exterior of the campus, metal paneling modernizing the look of the structure, a dedicated bus loop and two roundabouts.
According to Transportation Liaison Miranda Carson, 70-75% of students enrolled at the school take the bus to and from campus. This is in large part due to the proximity of major roadways, providing for safety bussing of students. Idaho designates walk zones as 1.5 miles in safe walking distance.
The most notable change to the interior of the campus is in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) space. According to CTE Director Staci Low, since the last middle school opened, Victory Middle School in fall of 2016, teachers have requested a redesign of the pre-engineering and technology room.
Sixth-grade world civilizations teacher Robin Steingruber has taught at nine middle schools in her 28-year career in education, three middle schools in West Ada. She moved to Star Middle School for the adventure of opening a new school.
“It has been so awesome to see the excitement the Star community has already shown us regarding the opening of Star Middle School,” Steingruber shared. “It is very evident they are proud of and excited to see the school in their own backyard. The students are very excited to be here and are working extra hard and taking pride in their environment.”
Ty Schmidt, athletic director and 8th-grade math teacher, explained many community members turned into volunteers as the school set up equipment and prepared classrooms for instruction. Through coursework and activities, Schmidt hopes students become as hands on in their community as the volunteers who helped set up their school.
“I want them to think about their futures and know that all the staff in this building, admin, teachers and support staff, are looking out for their best interest and want them to succeed at the highest level. We are all here to help,” Schmidt shared. “I would love them to create a culture of helpfulness, integrity and awesomeness. I have worked with many of the students here at Star Middle and they are building towards that now. They are working together and are willing to help each other.”
Video Highlights of the Ribbon Cutting Event: