by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
In the late 1960s, middle schools began to develop as a way to serve the intellectual as well as physical, social and emotional needs of early adolescents. Middle schools provide the connection between elementary and high school. Like many school districts, Grain Valley experimented with the middle school concept on a limited basis due to space and budget constraints. By the mid-1980s, the district began a rapid growth rate and it was apparent that a new high school would be needed, but the first high school “students” were actually middle schoolers.
In 1988 a $1,400,000 bond allowed the district to purchase 60-acres of land on AA Highway (now Eagles Parkway) for construction of a new high school. Because of the enormous size of the project, the original building was completed in three phases.
Phase I included 8 classrooms, a music room, a library, a computer lab, a small kitchen and commons area, restrooms and office space. It was completed for the 1989-90 school year and housed the Grain Valley Middle School, grades 4, 5 and 6.
The “team” approach, with a group of teachers providing English, history, mathematics and science to each grade level, was adopted. The middle school concept had officially begun.
In August 1991, voters approved a $900,000 bond for Phase II of the “high school” which included 9 classrooms, a shop, the new and enlarged student commons area and additional rest rooms. Grades 7 and 8 were moved into the building.
In 1994 voters approved a $1,275,000 bond issue to complete Phase III. In 1995 when the final phase was completed, the building became Grain Valley High School. The middle school moved back to the old high school campus. Classes were held in the 1954 elementary building and the 1969 high school. The 1925 building became the administration building.
In 1999, with a continued rapidly growing population, voters approved a $2,800,000 bond to purchase land and begin Phase I of the middle school on Ryan Road. In August 2001, an additional $3,500,000 bond was passed to complete Phase II, and both were ready for occupancy for the 2002-03 school year. By April of 2003 it was already necessary to add additional classrooms.
In 2010 the school on Ryan Road became South Middle School, as Phase I of North Middle School at the Pink Hill Campus was completed for occupancy in August. On February 8, 2010 voters approved a $3,000,000 bond to complete Phase II, which included a gymnasium and locker rooms. Phase III, which included additional classrooms and kitchen expansion, was completed in 2012. The second wing of classrooms was completed, and a third wing which includes classrooms, collaborative areas, work space and additional parking, will be ready for the start of school in August.
Next week: Don’t miss the final school segment, GVHS