Even though all school buildings are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work is being done to ready Susan Clark Junior High (SCJH) for students and staff this fall. Middle school principals Corry Spies and Chris Nienhaus presented to Muscatine School’s Board of Education at its meeting on Monday, May 11, 2020, information on what is taking place to transform West Middle School into Susan Clark Junior High.
In preparation for opening Susan Clark Junior High for Muskie 7th and 8th graders, district administrators and staff have been working diligently to make certain space is not an issue and that class sizes stay as low and manageable as possible. Mr. Nienhaus reported that 98% of the scheduling is complete. Class sizes for core subject areas range from 17-24 students with a few classes at 25. Guidance counselors are continuing to balance exploratory classes and are reporting similar class sizes. All staff, except for a couple of special education teachers, will have their own classroom unless they are co-teaching. Those noted special education teachers will share a classroom but will be in the rooms at different times of the day.
The gym floor is being resurfaced and sanded and will be re-painted with the Muskie “M” similar to the high school’s gymnasium floor. Bleachers will be installed to match the Muskie purple and gold theme.
The old stage with its removable wall has now become a permanent wall. Old lights and curtains were removed and now the SCJH choir will have an unbelievably nice big and open space for students to practice. The wall is insulated with thicker drywall/wood and is double insulated to help with soundproofing as it shares a wall with the gymnasium.
The old wrestling room has transformed into the new band/orchestra area. This transformation is probably the most remarkable renovation at SCJH. It is a large open space with a 900 square foot room off to the side students and teachers can use for small group practice with two other office spaces for the band and orchestra teachers. Tiles will be added for acoustics and soundproofing. Storage from Central will be brought to the room for instrument storage.
The parking lot will be done this summer along with the main office space and a few classrooms that still need walls completed. The small gym door between the cafeteria will also be completed this summer. This will open the space so that students can spread out during lunch, an added benefit during the coronavirus pandemic to allow students the ability to spread out.
Susan Clark Branding
The district will be installing front signage this summer. Past board member Mary Wildermuth and the community’s Susan Clark committee will work on recognition of the Clark family in the entryway of the building. This recognition will provide information on the Clark family so that those entering the building will understand the significance of Alexander and Susan Clark. Students at SCJH will also learn about the Clark family as part of their social studies curriculum.
Student and Staff Transition
With COVID-19, the plans that were put in place for Central students to participate in transition activities with their West peers this spring did not happen. As soon as the district gets the green light, it will start planning transitional activities for the students which could include guided tours with their schedule in hand to go from class to class. Virtual tours could also be part of the transition activities.
Mr. Nienhaus noted that Central and West staff have done a wonderful job transitioning and working together to unite as one. They are excited to become part of the new SCJH team and it shows in their willingness to work together to make the transition for students as seamless as possible. Mr. Nienhaus noted, “Educationally this will be a positive for our students, staff, and community. All staff have done a great job working hard so that the transition will go as smoothly as it possibly can.” Mr. Spies offered his thanks and appreciation to Central’s staff and maintenance team in their help maintaining social distancing while preparing their rooms to be moved in a safe way.
This content has been provided by the Muscatine Community School District and is distributed by Discover Muscatine.