Visitors give new Mt. Airy Middle School high grades

School isn't scheduled to start until Aug. 26. But the halls of Mount. Airy Middle School were bustling on Tuesday.

From the crowd of happy faces came a steady stream of complimentary comments.

"Isn't it great!" someone shouted in the halls.

"This is beautiful! I even went into the bathrooms!" another said.

At the second open house for the brand new school, students, parents and community members were allowed to stroll the corridors at their leisure to examine the building that was still trembling as construction continued to complete the new bus driveway before the first day.

"We just got occupancy for the public last week," said Karl Streaker, the school's principal.

Most of the work in the building has been completed, though the bus lot is expected to go to the last minute to be complete.

"I've been involved from the ground up," Streaker said. "It's great to see people when they come in. The excitement on kids''s pretty wild to watch."

"Is this something or what?" exclaimed Paul Eckert, as he looked into classrooms.

"This is great, said Eckert, a teacher in another county, and the father of two. "The technology in all the classrooms. All the windows. This is good."

Many commented on the amount of light and open spaces.

The original building, which opened first as a high school, had a capacity for 400 to 500 students, Streaker said.

The entire sixth grade had classes in portable trailers on the Watersville Road campus.

The new school has a capacity for 750 students, and 670 students are enrolled, Streaker said.

"I was the first class there when it started," said Helen Raby, class of 1958, as she glanced at the rubble of the old building while visiting. "This looks nice. It looks like the facilities are really nice."

The school's history is on display at one entrance. Part of the exhibit is the original sign that was on the former building. The "Archives" hallway, as well as the gymnasium, are favorites for many.

"This is a nice thing here with the history," said Oscar Baker, as he read the signs in the hallway.

The 91-year-old had one child graduate from Mt. Airy High School and two from South Carroll High. He was pleased with the whole building.

"This is really nice," Baker said. "It's beautiful. It is so easy to get around here."

"I like the gym the best," Sara Brickey, 12, a rising eighth grader at the school said."It's a lot better."

Despite all the space, Brett St. Martin said he was not worried about getting lost on his first day of school. The rising eighth grader has been in the school a few times and is confident he'll find where he has to be when classes start next week.

"I think it is going to be pretty cool to be in a new school," Brett said.

The 13-year-old said he is no stranger to negotiating through new settings as a student.

"We were also in a new school at Parr's Ridge as first-graders," he said of his experience at the county's first primary school, which opened in August, 2005.

Jacob Miller, 13, appreciated the newness.

"It doesn't smell weird," he said happily.

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