HOPKINS, Mo. — As spring is arriving, the North Nodaway school district is beginning to see some updates in its buildings both in Hopkins and Pickering.
The district has several new construction projects in the works including a new addition at the elementary school in Pickering and a new front entrance at the junior high/high school in Hopkins.
Work appears to be further along in Pickering; however, that project began earlier than the Hopkins project. Studs are up in Pickering and rooms are beginning to take shape on the west side of the building.
Earlier this month, Herner Construction was preparing the footing area in Hopkins by digging out and installing rebar for the concrete pouring at the now closed-off main entrance to the building. To enter, people must use the rear entrance near the agriculture building. Superintendent Chris Turpin expects the job to move quickly as long as the weather stays amenable to construction.
The project will build a new entrance along with new offices and an elevator located at the front of the main building. In keeping some of the history of the front of the building, Turpin said the company plans to reuse the “Hopkins School” block in the new construction.
The district’s bus barn project, north of the main Hopkins campus, has been slowed due to weather, he said. The metal walls and roof are installed, but Northwest Metal hasn’t wanted to pour concrete yet due to the cool temperature. The barn has eight bays with the farthest west bay designated for washing.
“It will be a great thing to be able to allow us to put all the buses in,” Turpin said.
He said it’s the perfect amount of space, because the district has seven buses. Now that they can be parked north of the building, it frees up space to the east of the main building where they used to be located.
To the north of the main building in Hopkins, there are new concrete pads poured for long jump, shot put and discus practice. A rubber mat will be rolled out on the triple/long jump path and a sand pit will be installed at the end of it.
“We’ve actually done some improvements out here to try to make it so our kids can practice track events where we’ve never been able to practice these before,” Turpin said.
The district has also resurfaced and sealed the existing asphalt there at the high school and re-striped both lots. Some curbing was also repaired there for increased water runoff management.
Turpin told The Forum that the district has also received a grant from the Gladys M. Rickard Charitable Trust to replace 44 (all but two) doors in the Hopkins building. The grant will cover all but about $1,500 of the project, which he said is because the district elected to increase the width of doors entering the gymnasium. The company has not yet been approved by the board. He said after they’re installed, staff intend to paint the doors themselves to help keep costs down.
Turpin said they’re considering offering the old, damaged and unsafe doors to alumni should they be interested.
Within the junior high/high school, the district is working with Hines Mechanical, of St. Joseph, to improve the air quality throughout the building. This includes air conditioning the Peve Gymnasium and the commons area outside it. Large concrete pads have been poured behind the building in preparation for heating and cooling elements.
Senior Sarah Chesnut is a bit sad that she won’t get to use the gym for volleyball next year and experience the new A/C, but said that she’s still excited about it.
“I think the drive for practice will want to last longer,” she said. “Sometimes during the summer I’d definitely be like ‘It’s hot!’ I’d be ready to get out of here, but I think we’ll have more drive to want to stay in here. It’s good for our athletic program.”
Freshman Lacy Riley was helping Chesnut change over signage in the gym late last month when the two talked about how much better it will be.
“It gets to be pretty hot,” Riley said, continuing that she’s most excited about being able to cool down, because in years past the heat made her feel sick sometimes.
Both agreed that it was a good idea for the board to approve this project.
Other work inside the gym involves new telescopic bleachers. The project was only approved last month by the board of education to put out to bid. The project will have a minimum capacity of 430 people and a minimum of six spaces for wheelchair accessibility.
Upstairs in the Hopkins building, the Innovation Lab has grown to include Vex Robotics equipment, a 3-D printer, a GlowForge machine, a virtual reality setup and more.
“They kind of live for it,” high school principal Roger Johnson said.
Seniors River Wolf and Darron Bix agreed, saying they’re working together on a robot that can now drive on its own. Wolf said they’re working to make the machine shoot a disc, and even pick up discs it’s thrown on its own.
“It’s pretty fun,” Wolf said. “That’s one of my few classes that I actually enjoy going to. I think it’s a fun class.”
Bix, who was traversing the school acquiring data for his statistics class late last month, told The Forum that he thinks the lab is pretty fun. As part of the robotics team, he said likes the creating aspect of robotics.
“I like the creating and then the sweat and tears of having to take it apart because you realize you did something wrong,” Bix said.
For him it’s all about enjoying the creation of something new and making it do something “fascinating,” on its own. He said, the lab offers a lot in the way of STEM education, with engineering, coding, programming and math.
“I think it’s going to provide many opportunities for students,” Bix said. “Anything that you can help students to create hands-on learning on their own, I think is a big plus. Maybe it’s just me, I’ve always learned better hands-on. I feel like lecturing, you fall asleep. But if you’re doing hands-on, you’re figuring out how to do it. You’re messing up. You’re correcting your mistake and getting taught. That’s what I feel is effective teaching.”
The district’s innovation lab was also the first in the state to implement a drone program where students can become certified FAA drone pilots. That program was instituted in 2021.
Turpin said he is on the lookout for new grant opportunities and is actively working with the board of education to improve district amenities for students.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” he said.