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Trading spaces
Trading spaces

BLOOMINGTON - Instead of running up and down musical scales, students are running to and from fitness stations in the choral room at Bloomington Junior High School. Trading spaces and being flexible aren't a big deal for the teachers and students, who've become experts at using space creatively as workers add another 30,000 square feet to the 170,665-square-foot building at 901 N. Colton Ave.

"We have used every single space in this building," said Principal Sue Silvey.

The project addresses overcrowding present for several years, said school board President John Dirks. At a groundbreaking ceremony July 12, he called it a "prudent plan" to help create the best environment for learning.

His son, Peter Dirks, 12, worked at one of the fitness stations last week.

"It's pretty fun," he said. "You get a little bit of everything. "

The sixth-grader, who also is in chorus, will take his place on the risers when the room is complete.

District 87 taxpayers will not see a tax increase as a result of the project, Superintendent Bob Nielsen said.

The district restructured its debt last year, making it possible to carry this and other building improvements throughout the school district.

In the meantime

Physical education students have been displaced from the former multi-purpose room during the $6.35 million expansion and renovation, which will include a new gym. They temporarily are using the new choral room.

It's hard to tell it's a choir room: There are no risers, pianos or the traditional trappings of music here. Instead, students step and lift weights at fitness stations and check their heart rates with new digital watches.

"It's fun being in here. You get a lot of air," said Brittany Davis, 12, a sixth-grade student.

Doug Callahan, 11, a sixth-grade football player, likes the fitness stations, which are part of the school's fitness-for-life curriculum. The set-up is a lot different than in grade school, he said.

The choral room is expected to be ready when school starts in August, Nielsen said.

The budget was a major concern for the school board in 1990 when it planned the $13 million school. About $1 million was cut when a building wing was dropped, but that also reduced available space.

At that time, enrollment was about 1,200 and the school practically was filled. The number of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders has been fairly steady in the last three years, ranging from 1,350 to 1,385 students, Nielsen said.

Eric England, on-site construction superintendent for Johnston Contractors Inc. said good weather has helped contractors stay on schedule.

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