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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ground broken on new $43.5M Glover Middle School in northwest Spokane

Aubrie Christensen, project manager for Spokane Public Schools, and Dana Harbaugh, NAC Architecture, unveil a rendering during a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Glover Middle School on Oct. 10, 2019. The new northwest Spokane middle school has been designed by NAC Architecture for a scheduled completion of August 2021. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

When student-teacher design teams from Glover Middle School were asked to help envision the design of a new school building last winter, they decided to go with the flow, drawing inspiration from the current of the Spokane River as it passed the Bowl and Pitcher at nearby Riverside State Park.

NAC Architecture took it from there, designing a building that will allow students to find the right current, the right eddy – and make a few friends along the way.

They’ll also get to class a lot sooner, Principal Mark Lund promised Thursday afternoon at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $43.5 million facility in northwest Spokane.

Lund also knows how to read a crowd, which consisted of seventh- and eighth-graders who will be in high school by the time the new Glover opens in the fall of 2021.

“I know you’re thinking that this is something you’re not going to be a part of, but you really are the group that started this,” he told students as they sat on the large grass field where the new building will be located.

He also beckoned them to come back – “to a place where you and your family and your siblings want to go to.”

“We could not be more blessed to have this experience,” added Lund, who worked with kids, teachers and district staff to create a building that promises to let students “connect, welcome, serve, explore, move, perform, create and play.”

To help them do that, their design includes open-study areas, multilevel libraries and a “wellness center” that promises to be more than a gymnasium.

Lund said the new building will not only be about “new surfaces and shininess.” Additionally, he said, it will help students connect in an age when “we’re lacking those face-to-face connections.”

The biggest addition might be air conditioning. Superintendent Shelley Redinger mentioned it twice during her remarks.

Like similar buildings at Shaw and Sacajawea middle schools, Glover’s poor ventilation is notorious. As the crowd gathered Thursday, one man recalled that for many years the school’s windows were often left open overnight to let the building cool.

Nowadays, single-point entry means windows and doors stay closed even on the warmest May afternoon.

When completed, the new Glover will cover 135,000 square feet, or most of the current playing field at the intersection of Longfellow and Belt. It will hold 750 students.

The current building, which dates from 1959, will be demolished after the 2020-21 school year.

The project was part of the $495 million bond passed last year by Spokane voters, and school board President Sue Chapin thanked them.

“On behalf of the entire board of directors of Spokane Public Schools, thanks to the community for trusting us with your tax dollars, we really appreciate it,” Chapin said.