The middle school gym can seat 1,000 community members, making it the largest community space in Vale. (The Enterprise/Isabella Garcia)

VALE — The end of carefree summer days can be difficult for students, but the blow may be cushioned for 120 Vale middle schoolers who will start this school year in a new building.

Construction of the new Vale Middle School started in March of last year after voters approved an $8 million bond to go with $4 million from the state. The completed project cost $10.3 million. 

“We’ve definitely stayed within our budget,” Alisha McBride, Vale School District superintendent, said. “We’ve been fortunate.”

The school is on a 38,000-square-foot campus and features eight classrooms, a “sophisticated” science lab, a wrestling room, a gymnasium and a media center. 

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“I guess that’s what we call libraries now,” McBride said about the media center.

In addition to updated amenities for students, security was a priority in the building design. 

All building entry points will be locked from the outside during the school day. School faculty and staff will have key fobs that allow them access into the building during school hours. 

In addition to unlocking doors, these fobs will track who is in and out of the building. 

The main entrance is a double door system. Visitors may enter through the first doors during school hours, but the second set of locked doors — only unlocked by an administrator’s fob — will force visitors to walk into the front office where they can be buzzed in by front desk staff.  

The emphasis on security comes after an increase in school shootings over the past few years. 

Open, unobstructed hallways also feature prominently in the school design.

“There is an increase in visibility for student activity,” McBride said.

The school is also equipped to welcome visitors in — not just keep them out — when the time is right. The middle school gym can seat 1,000 people and has the potential to be used as a community gathering space.

“We don’t have community centers,” McBride said about Vale. 

The superintendent explained that when a community event outgrows a church, there aren’t places in the community that can host a large event. 

The new gym can be the space for those events.

The middle school is having an open house on Monday, Aug. 12 from 6 to 7 p.m. for the community to see the new building. Because of the security features, this may be the only time some members of the public are able to see the interior of the school.

“We’d love to have the community turn out to the open house to see the building,” McBride said. 

According to McBride, the district plans to demolish the old middle school building, but has yet to plan when. 

The district has no intention of selling the lot and plans to use it as a green space.

News tip? Contact reporter Isabella Garcia at [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

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