Midway ISD’s new elementary school discusses safety features added to the freshly renovated school
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Midway ISD’s new elementary school, Chapel Park Elementary, is almost ready for the upcoming school year, adding safety features and modern learning areas.
After the school shooting in Uvalde at the end of the last school year, safety is a concern for many students, teachers and parents.
The new principal, Kim Hawkins, said the school just added a few more touches to the already-safe building.
“Safety is something that I think, at Midway, we do very well,” Hawkins said. “We’re just going to kind of beef that up a little bit.”
Hawkins said the school added a new type of lock that shows green when unlocked and red when locked. The school also added bullet resistant glass to the front doors.
The updated alarm system has voice recognition, and the alarms are located in every classroom.
Teachers can also check in students digitally on phones, iPads or computers to find where students are located, especially in drills and emergencies.
While cameras and on-site security are important to protect the students, Hawkins said training is a big part of keeping everyone safe.
“We have tabletop exercises that we take staff through so that we’re always thinking of what could happen, what would we do, as well as training our kids the same way, where it’s a natural thing for them,” Hawkins said. “But, it’s something that I think that we model enough that we’re going to be prepared.”
Midway ISD also said they plan to focus more on mental health as well.
Safety features is not the only thing the school added.
Chapel Park Elementary is one of the schools that received money from a bond in 2019. This bond is meant to create more space for elementary students in the district. However, they utilized this as an opportunity to also modernize the learning environment.
“A school bond allows us to have more funds for facilities than we would normally have in an operational year,” Midway ISD director of communications, Traci Marlin, said. “We’re able to add things to our school facilities through renovations and new construction that are even more modern and more forward thinking.”
Because Midway ISD transformed an intermediate school, which is fifth and sixth grades, into an elementary school, they had to make some adjustments.
This meant bigger classrooms, and they had to add more bathrooms for classes.
The school got rid of the lockers in the hallways and added collaboration stations.
“One of the biggest things that we really wanted to emphasize is the collaboration,” Hawkins said. “We want our kids to be able to learn together and have these spaces where teachers and students can work together.”
She also said that the school will provide more creative learning opportunities like maker spaces and innovation areas.
“Students will be able to be exposed to some of our robotics and some of the tinkering types of environments,” Hawkins said.
The renovations included gutting the office, which was in the center of the school, and replacing it with an open-layout, multi-purpose library.
This will be the center of the school, creating more of a collaborative, open space for students, teachers and staff.
Midway ISD also modernized classroom basics like chairs and desks.
They added “flexible” furniture which means students can easily move chairs and desks to create a collaborate learning environment.
Chapel Park Elementary is one of the two new Midway ISD elementary schools opening for the upcoming school year. The school district is also opening a middle school.
These schools are a part of the new rezoning of the district that gets rid of the intermediate schools.
“It realigns better with the Texas curriculum to have fifth grade in elementary and sixth grade with middle school,” Marlin said.
Chapel Park Elementary still has some construction left like the cafeteria, art, music and innovation areas, but they are on schedule to be done within the next few weeks.
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