STATE ROAD — Students and teachers at Bridges Academy are getting a special kind of Christmas gift this year, as the new middle school building will be opening for use prior to Christmas break.
“We will wait and have a grand opening in the spring when the weather is perkier,” said Merry Lowe, principal and director of Bridges, a charter school in State Road just a few miles outside of Elkin.
“The students are excited, and the classrooms are beautiful,” she said, adding each one will be equipped with a SmartBoard, white board technology which replaced the traditional chalkboards. “We’ve been jam-packed in the main building.”
Grades six through eight will be moved to the new building, which one classroom for each grade, bathrooms, an office and a resource room being housed there.
“Phillip Norman, our board chair, spearheaded [the drive for the new building] with the help of the rest of the board,” said Lowe. “Because of our school mission, we want to be a small community-based school, I expect we won’t grow over 200 students. We have 173 now.”
The facade of the new building matches the brick work on the historical main building.
In addition to work in the new structure, Lowe said during the summer workers torn out the linoleum flooring in the entrance way to the main building and found beautiful hardwood floors. So those were finished, and she hopes in summer 2016 to uncover the same “pleasant surprise” in the rest of the main building’s hallways.
“Phillip Norman went to school here when it was Pleasant Ridge, and he remembers it being all down the halls,” Lowe said of the hardwood.
Another addition to the school is the Junior Appalachian Musician program, abbreviated JAM. The program will kick off during a community spaghetti dinner and bazaar at Bridges Dec. 4 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“It is a program you follow. We have an advisory board now and the Elkin Public Library Endowment awarded us $1,500 to purchase instruments,” said Lowe of the JAM program.
To show students, parents and the community what JAM is all about, Bridges JAM organizers have invited the Alleghany Schools’ JAM participants to perform during the dinner and bazaar fundraiser, which is sponsored by the Friends of Bridges. “That will be our kick off and then we’ll buy the instruments,” she said.
“JAM will be done during the school day, and we might open it up to the community after school if the instructors are interested,” Lowe explained. “We have one teacher on staff who will be doing the instruction, and we will contract with local musicians.”
JAM is funded by grants and foundations at the present, but Lowe said the aim is to have is self-sustainable so it can be continued for the long-term.
On a school-wide level, Lowe said things are “moving along in a positive way. We hired one full-time additional teacher and two teachers assistants, and we had no teachers leave this year. No turnover is nice.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.