Delta Middle School celebrated its official grand opening last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and guided tours of the 34,000 square foot, two-story addition located south of the old middle school campus.

“On behalf of Delta County School District, we are so excited to have this new Delta Middle School campus,” said Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The new state of the art education addition was made possible by a $10.5 million Building Excellent Schools Today (B.E.S.T) grant and approximately $4 million of district funding. And while the new building has been open to students since last year the grand opening was postponed until last week due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I am just so appreciative of people who were on the former board and our current board that we have now that we were able to get this addition finished,” said Linda Ewing, school board member.

Work on the $14.5 million addition designed by Reilly Johnson Architecture began in May 2018 and was completed in January 2020. Kissner General Contractors, Inc., of Cedaredge, contracted the project including six classrooms; media/library center; kitchen and cafeteria; conference room; band/ choir rooms and upgraded administrative offices.

Prior to the new DMS and addition, students had to traverse a large campus to a number of buildings. Gibson said the new middle school and addition has increased safety for the students as well as providing a better learning environment.

Several current students expressed their feelings about the school and the new addition to the middle school campus.

“My favorite thing about the school is how much they care about you and how much they want you to succeed, move on and do well in life,” said Jhett Ryan, eighth grader.

As for the building, Ryan said, “It’s really nice. It’s been fun just to kinda move into it and be some of the first ones here and explore it.”

“One of my favorite things about this school is how new it was because when we first got here at the end of the year we got shutdown due to the coronavirus so, we got to see a little bit of the new building kinda and then half-way through the seventh grade we got to move in,” said JP Gallegos.

Gallegos told the audience that before the new addition the old choir and band rooms were “all the way in the P.E. gym way over there.”

“You’d have to make a couple of turns to get there. It took us a while to get there but now you just have to walk around here to this little corner of there and you’re there,” he added.

Ava Martinez was also impressed with the school’s staff and brightly painted cafeteria area.

“My favorite thing is that I love how positive the staff always is and how they always try to make learning fun. We ate lunch over there in the really old building and it was not even close to what this is,” she said.

The new cafeteria nearly doubles the space of the previous one and has a number of charging stations for cell phones and computers for homework assignments along with multimedia areas for larger class instruction.

“My favorite thing is how positive the learning environment is here and that they really want you to succeed in life,” said eight grader Olivia Hines.

“And the brand new building. What do you think about it?” asked Gibson.

“I like it. It’s really nice,” answered Hines.

“And why do you like it?” asked Gibson, looking for a bit more information.

“It’s fancy,” said Hines referring to the latest technology in the building.

Turning away from the expensive technology, Chloe Sharpe went straight to the practical aspects of the building.

“It’s really nice. It’s a lot bigger and there’s more room for all of us,” she told the audience.

When pressed to reveal her favorite part of the building, Sharpe brought the audience to laughter.

“The stairs,” she said, “I think they’re just cool and they’re green.”

Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay said prior to construction, the district received input from students who picked out the furniture and outside space.

“It was a cool process and the kids designed a lot of this building,” Clay said.

John McHugh, DCSD Director of Facilities, gave a brief slide presentation detailing the project from start to finish. He said there were a number of design recommendations from students over several months. Design ideas included the terrace area at the football field, fake rivers, exercise equipment, basketball courts and more.

“We even had them do a construction analysis where they compared the cost of concrete as opposed to asphalt for the parking lot. They actually did the estimates on the concrete and came up with what we should budget on this thing,” he said.

“This was a site project. One of our biggest concerns was it all went together. The focus of this project was to complete it and make it a safe campus,” McHugh told the audience, adding that energy efficiency was also a priority.

The old high school, which served as the middle school for a period of time, cost the district roughly $10,000 a month prior to switching from coal to natural gas. The new middle school boasts better R-15 insulation and an air flow system that kills 98% of the bacteria in the school. McHugh said other district buildings have since upgraded to the same system.

Attending the afternoon ceremony and tour were Rep. Matt Soper, Delta Area Chamber of Commerce members, DCSD school board members, DMS staff, teachers and students along with a number of community members.

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