Calera Middle opens its doors
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
CALERA – Calera’s newest school was teeming with excitement and some mayhem as students and faculty alike attempted to find footing during the first day at Calera Middle School Nov. 26.
The school houses Calera’s sixth through eighth grades, which will free up space at both the former Calera Middle, which is now Calera Intermediate and serves fourth and fifth grades, and Calera High School, which houses ninth through 12th. Until CMS opened, the high school had about 1,100 students, which has now decreased to about 700, CMS Principal Brent Tolbert said.
CMS originally was planned to open prior to the fall 2012 school year, but weather and construction delays pushed back the opening until after Thanksgiving.
Tolbert previously served as Thompson Middle School’s principal, as well as Thompson Sixth Grade Center’s principal.
“We’re very excited,” Tolbert said. “It’s a great, wonderful building for the Calera community.”
The $11.7 million facility encompassed the former Shelby Academy facility. The school currently houses about 600 students, but has the capacity for about 800 with room for a possible additional building, Tolbert said.
A two-story addition was built in front of the existing building, with the second story leading into the front of the existing building. The sixth grade classrooms are in the existing building, which has been renovated. Additionally, the gymnasium now connects directly to the sixth-grade building.
Rene Day, coordinator of career tech education with Shelby County Schools, called the new school “state of the art.”
“It’s a model for what we want in all of our schools,” Day said.
The new school features two science labs and computer labs, including a business computer lab, which teachers can reserve for their classes. The art room offers new computers for eighth graders’ digital photography lessons.
“I’m just excited to have sixth, seventh and eighth grades under one roof,” Tolbert said.
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