HCS celebrates completion of Berry Middle School’s expansion

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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HOOVER – A ribbon-cutting ceremony in November marked the completion of an expansion project at Berry Middle School.

After the groundbreaking in December 2019, the construction of a three-story, 13-classroom addition at the school finished in time for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

The expansion project was necessary due to the significant student population growth at BMS, which was almost at full capacity in 2019.

The new classrooms, including science labs and a teacher workroom, will better accommodate current and future students.

The school’s enrollment is about 1,150 students, and with the new addition, there is room for more than 1,300 students.

BMS is currently at 67-percent capacity.

BMS Principal Dr. Chris Robbins said it was exciting to be a part of and witness the project.

“Even already, this expansion has allowed us to do many of the things that we have always wanted to do but simply didn’t have the space,” Robbins said. “In previous years, we have had several teachers who are sharing classrooms and didn’t have a classroom of their own; this addition will allow each of our teachers to have their own space.”

Robbins said he and his staff have dreamed of having dedicated spaces for a Berry STEM and Robotics Lab as well as a teacher professional development room, which now exists due to the additional space.

“This space has also allowed us to better provide small-group math and reading intervention spaces as well as group counseling and peer support groups,” Robbins said. “With our expansion came a new and updated hallway to and from the back of the building, which has greatly decreased the traffic in the main hallway and created safer and more convenient class changes.”

Robbins expressed gratitude to Dr. Ron Dodson, Matthew Wilson and the entire Central Office staff and Board of Education for their forward-thinking, planning and support on the project, and said, “This expansion is already paying huge dividends for students in Hoover.”

“We are so excited about the Berry Middle School addition,” Hoover Board of Education President Amy Tosney said. “The need for more classrooms and space is a great problem to have. It means our school and community are growing. Berry Middle is a great school with great administration, wonderful teachers and exceptional students. This addition will provide more areas for learning and growth, and HCS is very proud.”

The building also doubles as a tornado storm shelter, and in the event of severe weather, it can sustain wind speeds of up to 250 mph.

Blalock Building Company Inc. and Lathan Associates Architects P.C. were the developer partners for the more than 24,000-square-foot addition to the existing school.

The construction was completed in 19 months with the final cost of construction at about $7.1 million.

The construction project was approved and planned under former HCS Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy’s administration.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the new addition took place on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Those in attendance included Hoover Board of Education members; HCS Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler and HCS staff; Robbins and BMS staff; BMS Student Council members; Murphy and former HCS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tera Simmons; Mayor Frank Brocato and City Councilman Casey Middlebrooks; and Shawn Calma, vice president of Lathan Associates Architects.