Addition Complete At Stephen Decatur Middle; New Wing To Open To Students Wednesday

Addition Complete At Stephen Decatur Middle; New Wing To Open To Students Wednesday
Teachers spent Monday and Tuesday moving in to the new classrooms at Stephen Decatur Middle. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN– Teachers spent the early part of this week moving into the newly completed wing at Stephen Decatur Middle School.

The new addition to the school, which held asynchronous learning on Monday and Tuesday to give teachers a chance to move into their new classrooms, will open to students Wednesday. The addition increases the school’s size by 24,000 square feet and eliminates the need for the portable classrooms that have sat behind the school practically since it opened in 1997.

“It’s really nice to all be under one roof,” Principal Lynne Barton said.


Over winter break, construction crews demolished the portable classrooms behind the school. Submitted image.

In 2021, construction of a 24,000 square foot addition began at Stephen Decatur Middle. The $11 million addition had been identified as a need by school system officials for years, as the middle school had nine portable classrooms and was crowded when it opened. Funding constraints limited the size of the facility built in 1997.

Construction crews were putting final touches on the addition this week as teachers spent Monday and Tuesday moving into their new classrooms. The new wing, which includes 12 general classrooms as well as four science labs and storage and meeting space, will house two seventh grade and two eighth grade teams. Crews demolished the nine portable classrooms behind the school, as the old trailers weren’t worth reusing elsewhere.

Despite the laborious move-in process Monday, teachers were excited about moving into their new spaces. A group of the school’s retired educators even stopped by to help teachers unpack in their new rooms.

Barton said the new wing eliminated the need for portable classrooms and also freed up some multipurpose rooms that had been needed for classrooms.

“It’s so nice to reclaim those spaces,” she said.


The new wing at Stephen Decatur Middle School is pictured.

While construction crews are still finishing up a few minor aspects of the project, including completion of an outdoor courtyard, the classrooms are complete and ready for students to return this week.

In a recent school board meeting, Superintendent Lou Taylor praised the school system’s facilities manager and Whiting Turner Contracting Corp. for their efforts to make the addition fit the existing school.

“It doesn’t even look like an addition,” Taylor said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.