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Out of the old and into the new

A moving truck has been parked outside the old Cloquet Middle School on many different mornings this summer, including this week. Jana Peterson/Pine Journal1 / 2
Although there are still some finishing touches to go on the new Cloquet Middle School, officials say school will start on time and it will be great for the students in grades 5-8 who will be the first to attend the new school. Jana Peterson/Pine Journal2 / 2

BREAKOUT BOX: Save the Date

The new Cloquet Middle School grand opening and community tours will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14. The public is encouraged to come and explore the new $40 million school, which they approved building in a 2015 bond referendum.

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Some of last year's Cloquet Middle School sixth-graders wrote tongue-in-cheek essays about what features they would like to see in a new middle school, and one of the most common requests was for an escalator.

"They said teachers would find 'fewer sixth-graders passed out on the stairs,' with an escalator," said Nicole Vegar, who does reading and math interventions for the sixth grade. She explained that many of the sixth-graders would have classes on the third floor but lockers on the first floor at the old middle school. "I used to lose kids for five minutes sometimes when they forgot something in their locker — and it actually may have taken that long."

Travel time between the classroom and the locker won't be an issue in the new middle school building, as each of the four grades is built in a different-colored pod, with classrooms encircling the lockers and a common-learning area. There are inside windows in each classroom, so teachers can even watch students go to their lockers if needed.

Students head back to school full time Wednesday, Sept. 6, in Cloquet. While middle school students will relocate to a brand new school, students in other Cloquet schools also will find upgrades and changes. Both elementary schools and Cloquet High School got new, more secure entrances. Community Education moved to offices next to the swimming pool at the new middle school, while the Early Childhood Family Education program is now housed in a new wing on the west side of Churchill. Student bathrooms and offices were upgraded at Garfield. The high school's media center was remodeled.

But the flagship of them all is certainly the shiny new middle school.

While teachers are excited with their new digs, they appreciate the thoughtful design as much as the newness of the school.

"We're excited to be part of a team instead of off down an isolated hallway," said special education teacher Tristy Yorston.

And the students? Well, it gives them another reason to look forward to the start of a new school year.

Turn to Page A7 for a photo tour of the new Cloquet Middle School

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