Story by Sara Paul
School libraries are perhaps traditionally thought of as quiet, stale rooms filled with boring books and little else. However, the newly renovated Warwick Valley Middle School has turned that stereotype on its literary head by revamping its library into a high-tech hub where books, technology, and stylish modernity seamlessly collide in a bright, open, and inviting space.
With new instructional rooms, dozens of Apple computers, comfortable seating areas, and rolling desks, the library turned media center is now a central space where students and teachers can meet, collaborate, relax, and learn. Additions also include an industrial kitchen down the hall.
“This media center is such a different feel than when we were in school,” said Warwick Valley Superintendent Dr. David Leach.
“Now, this is the hub of the middle school building. And, this beautiful kitchen gives students great opportunities to learn some important, fundamental skills,” said Dr. Leach
Momentous Ribbon Cutting
On Fri., Oct. 25, school officials, Chamber of Commerce and Board of Education members, politicians, students and staff gathered for a formal tour and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the state of the art renovations at the Warwick Valley Middle School, located at 225 West St. in Warwick.
The school’s new focal point was part of a capital project completed over the summer of 2019. Other pieces of the project include a new lobby and entrance-way with bulletproof glass.
Middle school students proudly lead attendees through the new space, explaining the different activities that take place on a daily basis. The Middle School serves 1,100 students in grades five through eight.
“It’s very exciting and a demonstration of how when the community cares about their kids we can have access to the best of the best for our students,” said Principal Georgianna Diopoulos, adding that the renovations are part of the 2017 voter-approved, $10.8 million capital improvement project.
With an open concept that maximizes the transformed space, there are labs for foreign language learning, art and music classes. The main area houses 10,000 novels and incorporates a youthful, modern design with sharp angles and bright colors.
While munching on some pancake skewers and warm apple cider and enjoying the soothing sounds of the Middle School Orchestra, Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton commented, “The improvements to the Middle School that enhance security and have transformed the library into a truly 21st century media center are amazing. Congratulations to the District and staff for a very thoughtful, cost effective renovation that will benefit our students for many years to come.”
Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard added, “The improvements at the Warwick Valley Middle School are remarkable. The enhanced security and Main Office, a state of the art Media Center, new classroom facilities for Culinary Arts and Domestic Skills, Chorus and Band truly redefine the Middle School experience. The best part of the ribbon cutting for me was the guided tour by a very poised and smart Middle School student and the honors given to our own Odyssey of the Mind, World Competition Winners!”
New York State Senator Jen Metzger was also on hand for the morning festivities.
“This is just incredible. The space is so high tech, and the best thing is that the students are so proud of it. They displayed so much pride when they gave me the tour,” said Metzger.
Other School District Accolades
Sen. Metzger also presented the Warwick Valley Middle School’s Odyssey of the Mind World Champions with copies of a congratulatory resolution she introduced into the State Senate.
The Middle School’s Odyssey of the Mind team won first place in May 2019 at Michigan State University against 60 teams worldwide.
“This is the first time I have ever met world champions, and I am happy to commend them and recognize their dedication and commitment,” Sen. Metzger said.
She also noted that the US Department of Education recognized the Warwick Valley School District as a Green Ribbon school for its environmental efforts.
“Now more than ever we need leaders like these amazing young people in Warwick,” Sen. Metzger urged.
Standing in the pristine new educational facility amidst dozens of inspired and clapping attendees, Dr. Leach declared simply, “We have a lot to be proud of today.”