November 30, 2021 (Hoover, AL) - After the groundbreaking in December of 2019, the construction of the three-story, 13-classroom addition at Berry Middle School is now complete and was ready for teaching and learning for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
The expansion project was necessary due to the significant student population growth at Berry Middle School which was almost at full capacity in 2019. The new classrooms, including science labs and a teacher workroom, will better accommodate current and future students. The school’s enrollment is approximately 1,150 students and with the new addition, there is room for more than 1,300 students; and the school is currently at 67% capacity.
Berry Middle School Principal Dr. Chris Robbins says it was so exciting to be a part of and witness this building project. Dr. Robbins said, “Even already, this expansion has allowed us to do many of the things that we have always wanted to do but simply didn't have the space. In previous years we have had several teachers who are sharing classrooms and didn't have a classroom of their own; this addition will allow each of our teachers to have their own space.” Dr. Robbins says he and his staff have dreamed of having dedicated spaces for a Berry STEM and Robotics Lab as well as a teacher professional development room, which now exists due to the additional space.
“This space has also allowed us to better provide small-group math and reading intervention spaces as well as group counseling and peer support groups,” said Dr. Robbins. “With our expansion came a new and updated hallway to and from the back of the building, which has greatly decreased the traffic in the main hallway and created safer and more convenient class changes. I am grateful to Dr. Ron Dodson, Mr. Matthew Wilson, and our entire Central Office and Board of Education for their forward-thinking, planning, and support on this project. This expansion is already paying huge dividends for students in Hoover!”
Hoover Board of Education President Amy Tosney said, “We are so excited about the Berry Middle School addition. The need for more classrooms and space is a great problem to have. It means our school and community are growing. Berry Middle is a great school with great administration, wonderful teachers, and exceptional students. This addition will provide more areas for learning and growth and HCS is very proud.”
The building also doubles as a Tornado Storm Shelter, and in the event of severe weather, it can sustain wind speeds of up to 250 mph. Blalock Building Company, Inc. and Lathan Associates Architects, P.C. were the developer partners for the more than 24,000 square foot addition to the existing school. The construction was completed in 19 months with the final cost of construction at approximately $7.1 Million. The construction project was approved and planned under former HCS Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy’s administration.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the new addition to the campus were held at the school on Tuesday, November 30 in celebration of the completion of the construction. Those in attendance included Hoover Board of Education members; HCS Superintendent Dr. Fowler; HCS staff; Berry Middle School Principal Dr. Robbins and his staff; Berry Middle School Student Council members; former HCS Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy, former HCS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tera Simmons, Mayor Frank Brocato, City Councilor Casey Middlebrooks, and Shawn Calma Vice President of Lathan Associates Architects, P.C.