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John Witherspoon Middle School Makes Progress With Construction

Candace Braun

With September approaching, construction on schools in the Princeton Regional School District continues to move forward. As the new additions to John Witherspoon Middle School are near completion, progress is more than apparent on the inside of the building.

Students and faculty will soon be able to look forward to a new gym, pool, academic wing, renovated art and technology wing, music wing, and gym, as well as additional parking.

Both the new, regulation-size, 90-foot gymnasium and the eight-lane swimming pool have been constructed, and are nearing the final stages, said Bill Johnson, the school's principal. The last wall of the gym is being put in place, and the pool only needs to be tiled and filled before its ready to go.

"We're hoping to have [the pool] ready for the swim team in the fall," he said.

The brand new locker rooms behind the pool will be color-coded for each gender: blue for boys, and rose for girls. Each will also hold a teacher office off to one side of the locker room.

The old locker rooms will become health and special education classrooms at a later point in time; however, this fall they will serve as music rooms until the new music wing is complete, according to Mr. Johnson.

The New Wing

The new academic wing, which will house science demonstration rooms and a laboratory, is complete, only needing a certificate of occupancy to be fully ready for teachers and students, said Mr. Johnson. Students will find the rooms very different from the "former 1920s makeshift science laboratories they've had in the past," he said.

Soon students will be able to enjoy the classrooms' computer tables, built-in cabinets, double blackboards, and a TV monitor in the far upper corner of the room. The rooms will also have an emergency wash station and fume box in case of mishaps during experiments.

Both the seventh and eighth grade science rooms will be connected by a narrow room in the middle, which will house a freezer, washer, and lockers for equipment and students' belongings.

Next year is going to be very confusing for returning students, Mr. Johnson pointed out, the placement of wings and the classrooms they house having changed significantly. After construction is complete, the A wing, previous home of eighth grade classrooms, will house the performing arts rooms; the B wing, formerly for the seventh grade classrooms, will house the visual and practical arts rooms; wings C, D, and E, which were used for sixth grade woodshop classrooms and eighth grade practical arts rooms, will house academic classrooms.

The new academic wing with the science classrooms has not yet been given a name, said Mr. Johnson.

Overall, progress is moving along smoothly, and students are in for a surprise when they return in September, said the principal.

"They're going to be so taken aback by how beautiful it is. They're going to be in shock for two or three weeks," he said.

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