Loudon County district welcomes $18 million middle school

Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com

LOUDON — It was an exciting first day of school Wednesday for students arriving at the new Fort Loudoun Middle School.

First-year principal Christie Amburn greeted children and parents by name as they entered the $18 million center.

“We have so much room compared with the old school,” she said.

About 350 children are enrolled at Fort Loudoun in the Loudon County Schools district. The 92,391-square-foot building will accommodate up to 650 students in 32 classrooms.

The Roberts Road school features many educational amenities, including three science labs and a spacious library, Amburn said.

“It feels very modern,” she said.

Despite last-minute delays in getting the school completed, the building looked clean and ready for classes. It was granted a temporary occupancy certificate Tuesday.

Waxed floors shone, with little evidence of ongoing construction.

The gymnasium and auditorium remain off limits because of work that needs to be completed on order of the State Fire Marshal’s office. A flurry of last-minute effort allowed the cafeteria to open to children, some of whom were preparing to eat breakfast for the first time in the new building.

The school has ample natural light for every room including north-and south-facing windows in most rooms. Students have their own lockers — something they did not have before, Amburn said.

Entrances have been designed with security in mind. All visitors must pass through controlled areas in front of the office. A full-time school resource officer has also been assigned by the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office.

Special education teacher Sandra Stewart said she worked all weekend to get her classrooms ready. Stewart said she was thrilled to have so much room.

“I now have two classrooms instead of one,” she said.

Eighth-grade teacher and parent John Crisp said he was glad to be starting his first day at the new school, as were his children, sixth-grader Patricia and eighth-grader Michael.

The new school means a lot more than just a new building for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. The effect of having a new school will be important to those at the elementary level, too, Amburn said..

The old Fort Loudoun Middle School will now be home to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from Loudon Elementary School. Those grades formerly used portable classrooms.

The desire to get students out of portable classrooms at schools all around the county was one of the driving forces behind the first phase of the school building program that included Greenback School, Fort Loudoun and improvements at Philadelphia Elementary.