By: Jack Wolfe
The refurbished Linden-McKinley STEM Academy is not exactly done. Our team began our second half of service last week in a building full of sawdust, loose wires, empty shelves, and untiled floors; two weeks later and there’s still much to be done. It’s a good thing City Year is always ready, because many rooms and technologies are not. But the masses of construction workers we slip by post-final circle show that these things will be completed. And the general feeling I get from this new Linden-McKinley, even in its unfinished state, is making my personal Panther Pride soar.
Let me backtrack— I was a first year Corps Member last year, when LMSA was housed in the old (and hot, and crowded) North High building. Though architecturally pretty nifty, North was not ideal for teaching 21st century students, especially those enrolled in a supposed STEM academy. It was likewise tough to generate a positive school climate in a building that everyone knew was temporary fix (the murals we made were all mobile). There seemed to be an unspoken assumption amongst school faculty that the “STEM” identity would not be truly put on until we moved back into the renovated old building.
The difference between then and now is astonishing. The place we’re at today is one that students and teachers can boast about. It’s big, bold, and maroon all over. Most importantly, it’s a place that could produce a ton of science and engineering talent in the near future. We’ve got smart boards in every room, beautiful science labs, tons of new, state of the art equipment, and yes, air conditioning. There’s plenty of other fun features, too, including a brand new wing for the 7th and 8th graders (something that pleases me to no end), a new gym (that’s one of those “work in progress” things, as of today), and an absolutely insane amount of windows.
The new old Linden-McKinley STEM Academy is not exactly done, true, but it’s still a beautiful thing to see, especially in the Linden community. Having shiny stuff will not solve all the problems that plague our students, but the new building will certainly go a long way toward improving morale, increasing success, and helping our students engage with the world around them. It’s very exciting to be a Team Leader right now.