Tibbetts Middle School seventh grader Brandon Staley helps social study teacher Sharon Seegert pack books on the last day of school on Thursday, May 23,
Tibbetts Middle School seventh grader Brandon Staley helps social study teacher Sharon Seegert pack books on the last day of school on Thursday, May 23, 2013. Teachers, students and staff are preparing to relocate to the new middle school building on the west side of Farmington. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)
FARMINGTON — Navigating the halls at Tibbetts Middle School this week has been a challenge as piles of textbooks lined the walls like lockers, preparing for a move in the coming weeks to the newly built school campus across town.

Built around 1939 and 1940, the current Tibbetts building on Apache Avenue will be closed to students after relocating to the new campus located on the west side of Farmington on Twin Peaks Boulevard.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations James Barfoot said the construction of the original campus started as part of the Works Progress Administration, an agency formed as part of the New Deal by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The campus was initially used as Farmington High School until 1958.

Teachers, staff and students have been packing up the school in preparation to start moving supplies and equipment to the new campus starting next week.

Principal Karen Brown said she was excited for the new building, highlighting the floor-to-ceiling windows in the classrooms as one of her favorite features.

"I'm very excited," Brown said. "I think the entire climate and culture of the school is going to be extremely positive. All the natural light is going make a difference in the attitude of the students."

Brown said she and a committee of teachers were fortunate enough to give input on the design of the classrooms and other parts of the new building to the architecture firm FBT Architects of Albuquerque.

"The most important thing we wanted foremost was safety and instruction," Brown said. "That the classrooms were large enough, we had the right lighting, we had wide hallways and plenty of windows so we can see all the way around in that building.
Tibbetts Middle School seventh grader Brandon Staley packs textbooks on Thursday, May 23, 2013, to prepare for the move to Tibbetts new location in
Tibbetts Middle School seventh grader Brandon Staley packs textbooks on Thursday, May 23, 2013, to prepare for the move to Tibbetts new location in Farmington. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)
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Teachers James Horvath and Cindy Lanier have both taught at Tibbetts middle school for more than 15 years and both shared their excitement for their new classrooms.

Lanier, a seventh-grade science and social studies teacher, said she was excited for her classroom and laboratory room to be together. In the current building, the lab and classrooms were on separate floors.

"We wanted to make sure we had our classroom in the lab itself for each (science) teacher, that was a big thing we pushed for," Lanier said. "We get to use all that time for lab time instead of transitioning and going up and down the stairs."

As the shop teacher, Horvath said much needed space for student projects will be included in the new building, as projects currently line the shop's walls. The shop classroom has had several uses in the past before becoming a shop, including being a field house for sports use.

"This new shop has all the storage for the projects," Horvath said. "We wanted a paint room and a tool room, all these things, and it's all there. It's going to be fantastic."

Once the operations of the school are relocated to the campus, Farmington Municipal Schools are not allowed to relocate classrooms or anything involving it housing students, Barfoot said.

The decision of how the old building will be used will be left up to Farmington Board of Education members.

But for Lanier, who has taught at Tibbetts for all her teaching career, it'll be an interesting move.

"It'll be different working in a different building. I can't imagine what it'll be like going somewhere totally different," Lanier said. "I've never had that experience, it's kind of exciting. I'm going to miss my room, I loved my room."

Joshua Kellogg can be reached at jkellogg@daily-times.com; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @JKelloggDT.