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Berkeley Springs turns out for new middle school

June 29, 1998

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

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Warm Springs new schoolBy KERRY LYNN FRALEY / Staff Writer

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Attending sixth grade at Warm Springs Middle School instead of Widmyer Elementary School means 11-year-old Heather Davis and her classmates will miss out on an elementary school graduation.

But it's well worth the small disappointment to see Morgan County convert from a junior high model to a middle school model, said Davis' mother, Melanie Colmus.

Colmus said she's glad her son, Josh Colmus, 12, will attend eighth grade at the brand-new middle school instead of returning to Berkeley Springs Junior High School, which shared a campus with Berkeley Springs High School.

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"This will be a lot better for him, getting away from the older kids, where they really don't need to be yet," said Colmus, who toured the new school with her children Sunday afternoon.

The Berkeley Springs family joined hundreds of parents, students, grandparents and other community members at the first open house at Warm Springs Middle School, which will debut with the new school year.

The $7.4 million facility, designed to accommodate 525 students, will enroll about 480 students its first year, said Morgan County Schools Superintendent Charles W. Montgomery III.

Morgan County's first new school in 22 years, it will replace Berkeley Springs Junior High School and the sixth-grade classes at all county elementary schools except in Paw Paw, Montgomery said.

"We believe the separation will certainly enhance the educational atmosphere," he said.

The school is wired for the latest technology and was designed to adapt to changes in technology and education for more than a decade, Montgomery said.

By the time it opens, the school will have at least one computer with Internet access in every classroom, with one or two more computers slated to be added to each classroom by the end of the year, he said.

There are also two full computer labs, four science labs and a technology lab where students will be able to explore different careers using computer simulation, he said.

Montgomery said he was pleased with the excellent turnout at the open house and with the positive comments he had heard all afternoon.

Though her children are too old to attend the new school, Anna McClintock of Berkeley Springs said she felt excited touring the new building.

"I think it was needed for a long time," said McClintock, who works as a teacher's aide Greenwood Elementary School. "I'm interested in the special education class. They really have a nice setup there."

Harvey and Helen Lambert of Sarasota, Fla., said they came earlier than planned to visit their daughter and son-in-law in order to see where their granddaughter, Julie Scherpf, 13, of Berkeley Springs, will attend eighth grade.

Harvey Lambert said he liked the airiness of the building.

"It should be a good atmosphere for learning," he said.

Mark and Malinda Ayers of Berkeley Springs brought their son Kyle, 11, out to see where he'll go to sixth grade.

"Very pretty. Very nice," Malinda Ayers said after a tour.

"Very big," added Kyle Ayers, who said he liked the school's gymnasium best.

The school is badly needed, said Mark Ayers, who said he liked everything about it, especially the spacious classrooms.

Morgan County Commission President Philip C. Maggio Jr., who lives in Great Cacapon, toured the school with his wife, Sharon Maggio, and 12-year-old daughter, Maxie, who will attend seventh grade there.

"I think it's a great day for Morgan County. It shows we're in a growth mode, not a decline," Maggio said.

Now the county must focus on updating its high school, he said.

"You go from the 21st century back to the 18th century," Maggio said. "We need to work on bringing the high school up to the same standards."

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