The halls of the new addition to Santa Fe Middle School may be quiet now, but they soon will be bustling with students as the school gets set to open as a fifth and six-grade center this fall.


The halls of the new addition to Santa Fe Middle School may be quiet now, but they soon will be bustling with students as the school gets set to open as a fifth and six-grade center this fall.

School personnel joined members of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce and the public Tuesday for an official ribbon cutting.

The addition and renovation added five classrooms and a work room, expanded the school’s media center, and made improvements to Lindley Hall as a part of the Newton school district’s recent $29.9 million bond issue.

Superintendent John Morton said the newly renovated media center now will be able to accommodate all the school’s books and can be used as a study area for students.

Some changes still need to be made as books for fifth-grade students come to Santa Fe, and books for eight-grade students go to Chisholm Middle School, where the new seventh- and eighth-grade center will open.

The project, when completed, will have added 8,000 square feet to the building and included remodeling of 16,000 square feet at a cost of $2.3 million.

The new classrooms on the first floor will be used for fifth-grade students as the school is expecting 150 additional students.

The new classrooms have been built so they also can be used as storm shelters. Presently, students have to be taken out of the building and to Lindley Hall if a tornado threatens — something that could be dangerous, said principal Vickie Adame.

Adame said the school will work to upgrade the technology in the new classrooms to include projectors and smart boards.

The smart boards are hand-held devices that students can write on, and their answers are projected onto the wall of the classroom.

The new classroom addition and the media center were finished in October. One of the classrooms already is being occupied.

The last phase of the bond project for Santa Fe will be an expansion of the cafeteria to accommodate the increase in students.

An existing tech lab is being converted to a smaller classroom and offices to accommodate the expansion, Adame said. This project will be completed this summer.

Adame said students and staff were slightly distracted by construction noise and dirt when the project first got under way in spring of last year but quickly adjusted to the changes.

Little difference can be detected in the outside of the old building and the addition.

Architects took care to blend the architecture of the new addition with the style of the historical Sante Fe building, Adame said.