Eagle Valley Middle School eighth grader Yadira Vargas, left, on Tuesday signs a beam for the school’s topping-off ceremony. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
Carson City School District officials celebrated another milestone in Eagle Valley Middle School’s expansion through a topping-off ceremony as it reached its highest point by placing a beam signed by students, staff and school alumni.
Principal Lee Conley has anticipated the upcoming opening of the new building next year and fondly calls the site “Eagle Valley Middle School 2.0.” The project and all of its new features expected to enhance the campus next year have been signified by this week’s signing and placement of the steel beam.
“I wanted them (the students) to be proud they were a part of Eagle Valley and have a part in what we’re doing here,” he said. “They can come back in the future and … say ‘I was the first seventh grade class or the first eighth grade class to be in this new school.’ Hopefully it brings back good memories for them as well.”
On Tuesday, Conley said asking his students to take part wasn’t mandatory, although he surmised about 90% of them were enthusiastic about leaving their mark in perpetuity.
“I liked doing it because, like, in the future, like, if I come with my kids or something with my cousins, I could be, like, ‘I signed my name right there and that was when I was in middle school, you know, and it was like the best day in the world,” eighth grader Yadira Vargas said. “Even though I’m not going to be here when it was built, you could go in it. I could go in when my cousins are here.”
Gabriel Crounk, also an eighth grader who signed, also said he plans to return to see the finished version when his younger brother and sister attend after him.
“I think it’s very important to the school it adds more culture and everything,” Crounk said. “It’s something different. It’s like you get to sign on history. This building’s going to be here a while. It’s fun, seeing the progress every day. It’s more entertaining every time.”
The “reboot,” as Conley refers to the new building, will include a new layout with more classroom space with faculty and students anticipating where they might end up, whether it’ll be first or second floor for science, computer classes or all the SMART lab space and more. Additional staff will ease burdens for the district’s middle school needs in all areas. New offices, workrooms and restrooms will make learning a little easier for everyone, and the district’s board members agree.
“I think it’s really important because we’ve known Carson Middle School has been overcrowded for quite a few years and we did an addition there and more additions before I was on the board,” according to Trustee Laurel Crossman, who attended Wednesday’s ceremony. “This is a really great opportunity. We have to provide balance between the two schools where we will have similar programming available at Eagle Valley that we have at Carson Middle for students in the CTE (Career and Technical Education) offerings and the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program that will be available at Eagle Valley. We don’t get to build schools or make additions. It’s really an exciting time.”
The entire development has provided teachable moments as it has matured, Conley said. Staff members are taking full advantage to help students understand some of the essential business, environmental and scientific aspects that go into creating a new building on site.
CORE Construction’s project managers also have been generous in providing tours to classes.
“I also love the fact that (the students) kind of understand a lot more that a building doesn’t just appear,” Conley said. “…But I don’t think kids don’t truly understand what all goes into digging the dirt to surveying before putting up the walls. And then when I tell them the price tag on it, too, they go, ‘What?’ ”
On Wednesday during the topping-out ceremony, CORE Construction honored the tradition of placing the beam in the building’s framing at its highest point by attaching a small evergreen tree and American flag prior to raising the beam. The tree typically symbolizes continued good luck for the building project and safe completion, as there have been no injuries to date.
Trustee Richard Varner, who attended Wednesday’s ceremony and signed the beam, said the expansion is necessary to maintain parity in the community with the growing middle school population between Carson Middle and Eagle Valley middle schools.
“It’s a major milestone in the building,” Varner said. “It was a very honorable thing to be able to make that determination and be a part of that process, which is very well needed to even out the two schools. It’s nice to have a new addition for the students and a better learning environment and increased opportunities for the students to learn.”