Murray County School Superintendent Steve Loughridge stood at the front door and greeted incoming students as they arrived at Gladden Middle School on Tuesday.
“What do you think?” Loughridge asked a wide-eyed eighth grader.
“It smells like Elmer’s Glue,” the student responded.
“They HAVE been using a lot glue,” a chuckling Loughridge responded.
Even as the trickle of arriving students turned into a steady stream, workers in other sections of the school continued to labor.
“It’s gonna be a little bumpy at Gladden” Loughridge said last Thursday at a school board meeting. But as students arrived on Tuesday Loughridge and Principal Amelia Brock were upbeat.
“I’m not nervous, but I am excited,” said Brock, who is starting her third year as principal at GMS.
Loughridge said the priority has always been to have the classrooms at Gladden ready for the first day of school so students would not have to be moved to another location.
That goal has been met.
But there is a lot of work still to be done.
Renovation of the gymnasium is weeks from completion. The kitchen is not yet ready; box lunches are being prepared off site. The media center is a jumble of boxes and furniture. There are window frames awaiting glass and water fountains covered with plastic bags.
“We focused on getting the academic side ready and we’ve done that,” said Loughridge. “We had to get the school ready so that the fire marshall would sign off on it.”
Some students filing into the building were intially puzzled about the location of their classrooms. But teachers posted in hallways all through the building quickly offered direction.
Seventh grade math teacher Lindsay Strange stood outside her classroom door and welcomed students as they entered. She was pleased with the changes made to her room.
“I love it, I think it looks great,” she said. “They repainted the walls and redid the floors.”
On another hallway, eighth grade science teacher Leslie Basil was peeling plastic off her new whiteboard.
It’s Basil’s first day at Gladden Middle School; she’s from Polk County, Tenn.
Principal Brock noted that many of the students were wearing masks.
“We’ve been encouraging them to wear a mask, but we haven’t required it,” she said. “I am glad to see that many of them have their masks on.”