Gibraltar School District is finally ready to unveil its remodeled library and media center (IMC) and surrounding classrooms. The school will host an open house Feb. 12 to show off the enhancements that resulted from a $4.5 million referendum that voters approved in 2018.
Superintendent Tina Van Meer said planning for the project began in 2011, and after myriad meetings, conversations, and planning discussions about design, construction and finances, district leaders are excited to see the project come to life for their students.
“There are so many things I love about this project, but I would have to say my personal favorites are all of the collaborative learning spaces,” Van Meer said. “I truly believe we have designed a space that lends itself naturally to interactive, collaborative learning.”
Both students and teachers are able to work together in breakout rooms and at soft seating areas with large tables. Compared to the old space, which former school board member Fred Anderson called “pretty depressing” in 2018, the new space is more relaxed and inviting.
In 1971, the school built classrooms surrounding the library as part of an open-plan high school arrangement that was meant to encourage more collaboration among students and their teachers, but it failed because of distractions and noise issues.
“In 1972, Gibraltar students and staff eagerly awaited their new library and all the benefits that would come from the added space and open-concept classrooms,” Secondary Principal Gereon Methner said. “2020 started out much the same. Students and staff couldn’t wait to engage with the new environment of collaborative space and interactive technology – all bathed in natural light.”
One of the biggest challenges of the project was having the entire center of the school under construction, Van Meer said. In place of the surrounding classrooms, teachers held class outdoors in mobile classrooms, which proved less than ideal during the winter months.
“I have to commend our teachers and students for their flexibility and patience throughout the entire process,” Van Meer said. “While each stage of this project brought different challenges to the surface, our teachers continued to teach, and students continued learning.”
The project also went $470,000 over budget because of unexpected increases in the cost of steel and aluminum. The roof also needed more reinforcement than was originally projected. But, the operation continued as planned, resulting in a large, open space.
The new IMC features tall ceilings, windows providing natural light, and updated technology, which mirrors what students will see in the workforce and in postsecondary settings, Methner said. The school also upgraded safety and security structures and measures.
“This investment in children will pay dividends in the community for decades. How students access and process information may look a bit different today with new technology, but our mission to develop critical thinkers and problem-solvers remains,” he said. “Gibraltar students are our community’s finest product and are integral to the success of our local economy.”
Gibraltar Open House
Feb. 12, 5:30-8:30 pm
Gibraltar School will host a community open house to celebrate the grand opening of the secondary-school IMC and surrounding classrooms. All members of the public are invited. Guided tours, refreshments and a guest speaker will be on hand.
5:30 pm: Ribbon cutting
5:30-6 pm: Open house with student-guided tours
6-7 pm: Presentation by Mike McGowan: “Parenting in the Digital Age”
7-8:30 pm: Open house with student-guided tours