New year brings new school for Thornton middle schoolers

District 27J’s new Quist Middle School opens for students Jan. 7

Posted 11/26/19

A group of eastern Thornton middle school students and teachers will get a treat in the New Year — the early opening of their new school. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Adams County School …

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New year brings new school for Thornton middle schoolers

District 27J’s new Quist Middle School opens for students Jan. 7

Posted

A group of eastern Thornton middle school students and teachers will get a treat in the New Year — the early opening of their new school.

Sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Adams County School District 27J will get to move into the brand new Rodger Quist Middle School Jan. 7 when they return from their holiday break.

The 771 students have been sharing the Riverdale Ridge High School building, on the eastern side of Yosemite Street just south of 135th Avenue since it opened in 2018.

“First, this gives us our own space,” said Quist principal Trina Norris-Buck. “Then, it lets Riverdale Ridge some of their own space back. But really, it means our teachers don’t have to travel as much and it gives us the freedom to do somethings we couldn’t do before — like assemblies. These are things that are hard to do when you are sharing space with another school.”

Students at the schools come from the western part of District 27J, fed by West Ridge and Brantner elementary schools. Students at the new middle school would have attended Vikan and Prairie View middle schools.

Riverdale Ridge opened in Aug. 2018 for high school students from grades nine and 10 — the classes of 2021 and 2022, who occupied the top floor of the high school. The school is scheduled to have its first graduating class of seniors next year.

The school also had room for middle school six, seven and eighth-graders on the first floor.

That first batch of eight graders moved upstairs to Riverdale Ridge last fall.

Work on Quist began almost as soon as Riverdale Ridge finished, directly across Yosemite Street, and work was scheduled to be finished in the spring of 2020. District Public Information Officer Tracy Rudnick said the mild weather early in the construction work allowed crews to get ahead, finishing construction in October, when moving crews began bringing in furniture.

Norris-Buck said she’s grateful for the chance to get sooner. She thinks its a beautiful building — and will be for a long time.

“Sometimes, when new schools are built, architects want to do some new trendy, cool things,” she said. “It’s beautiful, but then in 10 years it looks outdated. And those are things that you can change in your own home but you can’t really change them in a school. So, I think our school is going to look good for along time.”

The school’s color scheme centers around navy blue, aqua, gold and terra cotta.

“It’s all neutral colors, with some nice browns,” she said.

Norris-Buck said she’s especially proud of the school’s gymnasium — like Riverdale Ridge, it features solar tubes in the ceiling that bring the daylight into the gym, saving electricity.

“It’s nicely designed and the floor decorations are really nice,” she said. “Our lion mascot is in the middle — we’ve named our lion ‘Sir Rodger’ — and the detail that went into painting him is just outstanding.”

She’s also pleased the students will get lockers in the new school.

“They’ve been carrying everything around with them,” she said.

School official ends for the semester on Dec. 19 and she said the district has planned orientations for each grade leading up that day — called Royal Walks, in honor of the new school’s nickname, the Royals. Eighth graders will get their day to tour the building on Dec. 17, seventh-graders on Dec. 18 and sixth graders on Dec. 19.

Space for evaluations

Back at Riverdale Ridge, principal Terry Elliot said the school won’t move into the new space right away but plans to use the first floor rooms vacated by the middle school as meeting space.

“We have state-required statements and advanced placement exams and SAT testing, so this gives us a good place to do all that,” he said. “We can move some of the intervention work — advising and working with students — that is happening in the library and cafeteria and common areas.”

He said he’s working with teachers now to decide how the school will be divided up for the 2020-21 school year. It will be the first year the school has had all high school grades in the building. The original group of 10th-grade students will be seniors, the school’s first group, beginning in the fall of 2020.

“We’ll move into those core academic areas, and we’ll be adding another 300 students,” he said. “That’ll give us the space we’re going to need to fit in all those students.”

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