BAXTER SPRINGS — Few students have the opportunity to go to school in a brand new building. Baxter Springs seventh and eighth graders will have that opportunity at the beginning of the spring semester this school year.

The new middle school wing at Baxter Springs High School is scheduled to open Jan. 7, 2014, the beginning of the second semester of this school year.

Middle School Principal Jason Walker said he — and the students — are excited.

“Words cannot describe the excitement and the eagerness we’re feeling right now,” he said. “A lot of students will go through 13 years of schooling and may be in the same building their parents were in. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“We told the kids, ‘you may never live in a brand new house, or work in a brand new office, but you’ll always be able to say I was in the first class in the new seventh and eighth grade wing.’”

Once the new addition to the high school is complete, sixth grade students will move to Central which will then be a grade 3 to 6 building, the middle school addition will have students in grades 7 and 8 and the high school will remain 9 through 12.

Burke said it will also allow the middle school and high school to more effectively share staff. It’s something the schools have been doing, but Burke said moving students rather than teachers will be more cost-effective and save time.

“We wanted to optimize the shared staff,” he said. “This way we can actually offer more things to the kids.”

He also said the new building will be highly flexible, something the current middle school is not.

He said the classrooms will have movable walls which will allow two rooms to be turned into one if needed and the back wall of some of the classrooms will be louvered so that they can be opened on the central lobby area for large presentations.

The new building will also have the latest wireless technology available at the time the building is completed and will be upgradable as needed.