Parents and Bright Futures partners of East Middle School on Friday were invited to write messages of hope on the floors of the new building prior to the installation of carpet and tile.
Amy Moore, of Webb City, planned to write an encouraging message specifically for her niece, Victoria, a sixth-grader at East.
“She wanted me to come out and write something inspirational for her,” she said.
Faculty and staff who thought they were on their way to a professional development session were surprised a day earlier with a tour of the new school, Principal Bud Sexson said. Many of them wrote their own messages on the floors, copying quotes from famous authors and speakers or citing passages from scripture.
“It was pretty emotional,” he said of the staff members’ walkthrough. “They needed to see it.”
The completion of the middle school is nearing its final stretch as the school district eyes a Jan. 6 opening date, according to Mike Johnson, director of construction for Joplin Schools.
The adjacent Soaring Heights Elementary School isn’t as far along, although the timeline has always been scheduled that way because construction began with the middle school portion before moving to the elementary side of the building, Johnson said. It also is scheduled to open in January, he said.
Interior work at Irving, the third school with a January target, is getting down to the details, Johnson said. Carpets are being installed, light fixtures are going in, and crews are even beginning final cleanups in the two-story wing, he said.
“There’s still a lot of activity, but all the finish is what we’re down to,” he said.
Continued work on the exterior, such as landscaping, curbing and guttering, was delayed recently because of rainy weather, Johnson said. But the school got a head start on landscaping in mid-October, when volunteers with Lions Club groups from across the state planted trees and shrubs on the property.
Recent rain also stalled progress at the site of the new high school, where a lot of outdoor work remains to be done. Johnson said construction crews are still working to set steel for the gymnasiums, lay concrete blocks for the Franklin Technology Center portion, pour foundations in some areas and put up exterior sheeting and windows.
“All of that’s kind of been hampered by weather this week,” he said.
But on a good day, nearly 300 people are working at the high school site, Johnson said. Work on the interior portions of the building includes plumbing, electrical, roofing, masonry, the hanging of drywall and the installation of metal studs, he said.
“There’s just a lot of trades going on,” he said. “And that’s what we want to see. We want to see trouble finding a place to park for everybody.”
The high school — with the exception of the auditorium — is slated to open in August.
Additionally, the concrete shells of new safe rooms are beginning to go up at some schools. The precast concrete panels have been put up at Cecil Floyd Elementary School, with interior work such as pouring the concrete floor and installing the roof to follow, Johnson said. Crews are now erecting the safe room shell at Stapleton, with McKinley and Eastmorland schools next on the list, he said.
Johnson said his office is working to complete about 130 contracts for the next batch of safe rooms, which will be at Royal Heights, Kelsey Norman, Jefferson and Duenweg schools. Designs for safe rooms at West Central and Columbia schools are still pending approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.
The installation of a new parking lot and entrance at South Middle School is nearly complete, but the project was slowed by recent rain, according to Mike Johnson, director of construction for Joplin Schools.