The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Community settles in to upgraded Hoover building

Construction workers knocked Herbert Hoover Middle School to the ground back in June 2011, leaving only a single atrium standing. Now, two years later, the reconstruction is finished, and the middle school students finally have a new building to call their own.

Former Wayside Elementary School principal Yong-Mi Kim replaced current Rockville High School principal Billie-Jean Bensen as Hoover’s principal this year. The opening of the school has led to many new changes, including a larger building, more modernized architecture and a new environmentally-friendly plan.

“The size of the building allows us to have all our students and teachers under one roof,” assistant principal Paul Ajamian said. “Staff and students are no longer required to go out to the portables during cold and rainy weather, and the computer labs, once fully operational, will be a tremendous upgrade.”

According to eighth grader Hana Mangat, the new Hoover is very modern but still has a comfortable feel to it, and settling in to the building was quick and easy.

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To identify each grade level more efficiently and keep the instructional program cohesive, the new building is divided into three floors: sixth grade classrooms are on the top floor, seventh grade classrooms are on the lower floor, and eighth grade classrooms are on the ground floor.

“The teachers can all plan together and the kids feel more like a team,” Kim said. “It really helps with supporting the students this way. “

A large part of the school is also dedicated to promoting health and fitness for students.

“We have our own section of the school now, which helps us be less disruptive when going outside to the blacktop and fields,” physical education teacher Christopher Bowen said. “We now have bigger outside basketball courts, more tennis courts, a brand new weight room with a new rock wall, a dance room and a wrestling room. We also have an archery net in the gym so that we can do an archery unit with real arrows. One of the best additions for the students in physical education is built-in locks on the gym lockers: no more lost or ‘stolen’ locks.”

The school media center also saw an upgrade.

“Our media center is very open,” Kim said. “When a school wants to encourage reading and literacy, I think it’s very important to make sure that the hub of it is open and inviting.”

The biggest change, however, may be that the new school is now Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, meaning it advocates going green and being environmentally friendly.

According to Kim, a company is blowing dirt onto the roof in order to grow a self-sustaining tray garden with small plants.

“The plants help in terms of keeping the heat in and the cold out,” Kim said. “Our heating and air conditioning is generated by a geothermal unit, so we’re not using a lot of power.”

The school also helps keep local waters clean.

“All the rain water runs off and goes into the ditches located around the school,” Kim said. “Under the ground, there are multiple layers of material that filter the water so that when the water goes out into the stream and into the Chesapeake, it’s as clean as possible.”

While many are enjoying the new school, some staff members are not happy with the way the architecture accommodates their department’s needs.

“There are many parts of the design that were not carefully thought out,” said an arts teacher at Hoover, who wished to remain anonymous. “Our performing arts classes—band, orchestra, chorus, drama—are all looking for alternate venues to hold our performances since the stage built into the cafeteria is extremely small.”

According to Ajamian, the building’s larger size helps unite the school and make it feel more like a family, but his favorite part of Hoover will never change, regardless of the school’s newest features.

“It has never been about the building,” Ajamian said. “It has always been about the wonderful students, amazing staff, and incomparable community that work together to make Hoover ‘A School of Excellence.’”

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Community settles in to upgraded Hoover building