FARMINGTON — It was a mix of feelings on Friday as teachers, staff and students prepared for the relocation of Hermosa Middle School to the old Tibbetts Middle School so Hermosa can undergo extensive renovation and expansion.
Teachers and staff at Hermosa spent part of the day packing up the last of their classrooms and offices as movers started to relocate boxes and furniture to the Tibbetts campus on Apache, where Hermosa will operate for the coming school year.
Two of Hermosa's three wings will be demolished and replaced with a two-story structure, which will connect the north wing and the gymnasium into one structure and, for safety reasons, will keep students from having to walk outside to get between buildings.
Relocating school operations to the old Tibbetts building will allow construction work on Hermosa to be finished and ready for students at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.
"The main thing for me is the safety of the students," Principal Mark Harris said. "To have all this heavy equipment around and have fenced-off areas and construction crews, coming and going. This is a much better alternative, it's safer and more secure for our students and teachers."
Thursday was the last day for student interaction to give teachers and staff some time to ensure they were ready for the move.
Seventh-grader Shawn Bradley said there would be no big change for him taking eight-grade classes at Tibbetts, but he said he was jealous of his sister Morgan who will be able to enjoy the new school when she starts seventh grade.
"She'll be able to come here when it's done. I hear it'll be very nice," Bradley said.
Ted Lasiewicz, Farmington Municipal Schools chief of operations, said the design plans for demolition and the foundation work are ready, with the remaining design work expected to be finished in the next couple of weeks.
Harris said safety was important to him as they redesigned the school. Efforts were made to protect the students by limiting public entrance points into the building and moving the courtyard behind the school.
"When this school was built in the late 1950's and '60's, many of the things happening in our society today, they didn't have to worry about," Harris said. "You can't plan for everything but we have seen what's out there and we can plan for that."
For some teachers, it's the end of an era for the school.
"You come in the morning and it's like home," math teacher Dana Davis said. "If you were in a bad mood when you left home, you get here and everything changes."
Davis said the renovated school is exciting but will not be the same. The school she has taught in for 15 years will be gone.
"I watched the flag pole get cut down and I thought, 'Oh my gosh,'" Davis said. "It was sad but it's all for the greater good."