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Twin Falls school rolls ahead of schedule

Despite this winter's averse weather, construction of Twins Falls Middle School is two months ahead of schedule.

Twin Falls is 80 percent complete and will be ready for students Sept. 1.

"The classrooms are taking such wonderful shape; it's getting easy to visualize students in there," Twin Falls Principal Ruth Moen told the Valley Record. "As crews construct the building, we're building the learning environment, spirit and culture of the school."

Students and staff vote this week to select the school mascot and colors. Mascot options were osprey and ravens; a vote will also decide whether black or light blue will complement dark green and silver for school colors.

The campus occupies about half of the 40-acre lot on which it lies. Ten acres were set aside for a possible future elementary school, and the remaining acres were designated as a green space for a migratory herd of 40-50 elk.

The Valley's third middle school is surrounded by tall trees, and many of the building's large windows afford views of nearby mountains.

"This is the way educational spaces should be," Clint Marsh, the school district's construction program manager, said during a recent tour of the site.

The school's library will be called after Valley educator Clara M. Vinup, whose name was edged out by Twin Falls when the district board voted to name the school.

Three wings named after forks of the Snoqualmie River, called the South, Middle, and North forks, are each dedicated to a grade level. Moen said giving each grade a wing gives the school an elementary school feel.

High school-style features also abound in the high-tech building, which is equipped for wireless and fiber-optic feed.

The science rooms feature sinks, a digital projector with a drop-down screen, and stations for mini-computer-labs.

Double doors connecting labs with classrooms create possibilities for team teaching.

"Middle schools are getting a lot of the features that high schools only used to have. This classroom will not be that much different from a high school classroom," Marsh said.

The theater, band, orchestra and art rooms are tied to a video/computer lab, where "you can do a production and film it, or the making of it," Marsh said.

The band and orchestra room doubles as a greenroom for the theater, one example of the flexibility of the building's design. All parts of the building connect to a huge commons area, which will also serve as a community center.

Though school staff will require only about 50 parking spaces, the lot will accommodate 170 vehicles.

"It's really sized for events in that big commons area," Marsh said. "This is definitely a community space."

Different sections of the school can be locked off during events, and the wood-floor gym has a separate entrance.

Staff will be able to monitor the school from the office through 56 closed-circuit cameras installed in hallways and outside the building to discourage vandalism and other crime, said project superintendent Steve Johnsen.

"It's a deterrent factor, when people know they're being watched," Marsh said.

One part of the school most people will never see is the upper level, where $2.5 million in mechanical heating and ventilation equipment, and another $2.5 million in electrical equipment, are easily accessible for repairs and maintenance, Marsh said.

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