TEXAS CITY — The transformation of the old Texas City High School campus into the new Blocker Middle School is complete. The new middle school students got their first look at the hallways and classrooms they’ll be occupying this semester during a sneak peek of the building Tuesday.

“This one is so much better than the old school,” said Emily Devasier, 13.

She was a seventh-grade student at the old Blocker Middle School and will be going to eighth grade at the new building.

Devasier noticed how clean the campus was and looked forward to her upcoming art classes.

She said she didn’t think there was anything she would miss from the old middle school campus.

The approximately 152,000-square-foot middle school includes the old high school’s library, student center, auditorium, band hall and two gyms — all of which have been renovated — plus about 85,000 square feet of new construction.

The two-story academic wing of the campus will house the seventh-grade on the first floor and eighth- graders on the second floor. Classrooms will be clustered together in a pod concept with shared space in between classrooms with councilors and assistant principals nearby.

The school’s existing auditorium had lighting and sound upgrades to go along with other renovations of the campus.

Parts of the campus buildings have exposed ceilings and window cutouts to give students a look into the building’s inner workings.

And there are even raised beds at the new campus so the Garden Club can continue its popular vegetable gardening project begun at the old campus in conjunction with the St. George’s Episcopal Church.

The $27 million project is coming in on budget and, while there are still a few things to finish up, those will be done on time to welcome students on Monday, said Jack Haralson, the school district’s construction and facilities director.

Ethan Allred, 13, would be starting seventh grade next, and he was in the Valero STEM Smart Lab on Tuesday.

“It’s nice,” Allred said as he was at the flight simulator controls at one of the desks.

A week before class was scheduled to begin, Allred was already wondering how long he would get to spend in the lab.

Valero provided the $247,000 for the lab that would focus on science, technology, engineering and math, said Melissa Tortorici, a Texas City school district spokesperson.

Stacey Richardson, the STEM lab teacher, said students would do projects involving circuitry, photography, digital communication and mechanical engineering, among other things.

She said teachers at the high school were thrilled to see the middle school would have the STEM lab.

“If (students) come in here and find out what they enjoy when they get (to high school), they’ll know exactly what route they want to take,” Richardson said.

On Tuesday evening, Blocker Middle School Principal Julie Southward was busy preparing to welcome students and their parents to the campus for the first time. She said she and the teachers were excited about everything from the layout of the classrooms to the live stingray that will eventually reside in an aquarium on campus. But, Southward said, what she was most looking forward to were the students.

“The only thing the building is missing is kids,” Southward said. “We are looking forward to seeing kids in the building tonight for the first time, and then it is really going to look like a school.”

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com.

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