By Kim Lux
A rededication ceremony was held at North East Middle School on Nov. 19 to celebrate the completion of the school’s renovation and unveil it to the community.
The event was held on the 27th anniversary of the original dedication ceremony in November 1992.
The multimillion-dollar renovations to the middle school included a new security vestibule, the installation of air conditioning, a new gymnasium floor, a new STEM room and much more.
“While we are here to celebrate the culmination of the construction project, many years in the making, it’s also important to take a moment to recognize the people who made the renovation a reality,” said Assistant Principal Dr. Steve Karns, who welcomed the crowd. “I’d like to acknowledge our teachers and staff members. We are blessed with an incredible group of professionals who work tirelessly for our students. Last year presented some challenges as a result of the renovation, however we never altered our expectations of meeting the needs of students. Our teachers and professionals more than rose to that challenge.”
Karns went on to thank the North East School Board for their approval of the renovation and commitment to students’ educational success.
Next to speak was Angelene Gorniak, an eighth-grader at North East Middle School.
“My journey and experience through the middle school has been amazing, great, fun and so much more,” Gorniak said. “There are so many words to describe it but bad is certainly not one of them.
“The middle school went through the renovations to create a better learning environment,” she added. “In the middle school, one thing you learn is you have to be flexible. During the time of renovations, everybody had to be flexible so we could get to the end result of new classrooms and air conditioning.”
Gorniak went on to recount the students’ experiences through the middle school renovations and how the school’s teachers, staff and students came together.
“I hope you enjoy tonight and get to see the beauty in the school that I see every day here,” Gorniak said in closing.
Three middle-school faculty members, who were at the first dedication ceremony in 1992, then reflected on their time at NEMS.
First up was Christina Hoyt, an eighth-grade English Language Arts teacher.
“Twenty-nine years ago, the middle school was but a dream,” she said. “As that dream was awakening, the sixth- and seventh-grade faculties from the Heard Memorial School and the eighth-grade faculty from the high school started in-servicing to learn about the middle school philosophy.”
Hoyt explained how future middle school employees traveled to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and other cities to tour high achieving middle schools.
“As the building was being built, and the opening day was coming, it was a crazy time for all of us,” she said. “I will not ever forget that first day. The only things finished were the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade wings. The rest of the school was off limits.
“We knew our rooms had to be in tip-top shape,” Hoyt added. “Not only would they be used for academic purposes, but they were also going to be used for special classes and even the cafeteria. When we were ready to leave school on that last in-service day, there was not one stitch of student furniture in the building. We returned the next morning to rooms filled with beautiful desks and chairs.
“And then we blinked and 25 years’ worth of middle-schoolers have grown up within our walls and our building needed a facelift,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt called teaching through the renovation process a fascinating experience and said she hopes the upgraded building will benefit a new generation of students.
“It’s only fitting that we rededicate this building for the next quarter century of middle-schoolers so they, too, have a beautiful building in which to grow and learn,” she said. “Congratulations to the North East community for supporting such a wonderful project.”
Seventh-grade math teacher John Beaumont also spoke.
Beaumont said that he and many of his students enjoyed the newly installed air conditioning when the new school year began.
“When we came in this summer and there was air conditioning, it was heaven sent,” he said.
He added that what makes NEMS special is the relationships between the teachers and their students.
“It’s been a pleasure working in this building,” Beaumont said. “The one thing that this building has always had is great teachers who’ve made great connections.”
NEMS Principal Greg Beardsley also spoke and thanked the faculty, students, administration and community for their support during the renovation process.
“It’s an honor to be here this evening,” he said. ‘I’ve had the good fortune of being the middle school principal for 20 years. This is my 31st year in the district and it’s been an outstanding ride.”
Beardsley added that everyone worked together during the renovations and he’s pleased that no disruptions were caused.
“We didn’t miss a single day of education throughout the entire renovation process,” he said. “Students, I hope the things you learned through this will serve you for the rest of your life.”
Beardsley closed by reiterating what the previous speakers had to say about NEMS being a special place for students.
“I am so excited for the future of this school and am happy to have called it my home away from home for all these years,” he said. “Bricks and mortar are the components of this middle school but the magic is generated by the faculty and staff who’ve created an environment that is a place to learn and a place to belong.”
A replica of the dedication plaque was then presented to the North East School District administration. Administrators from all three schools along with past, present and new board members accepted the plaque.
The ceremony closed with the school’s eighth-grade chorus singing the North East school song.
Guests were then invited to tour the building and enjoy refreshments in the cafeteria.