New beginning for Waverly-Shell Rock students & teachers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New beginning for Waverly-Shell Rock students & teachers

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

It's an exciting time of year for any kid. But after three years learning in less than ideal conditions, Thursday really was a celebration.  Students, parents, and community members officially opened the new Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School.

Sixth-grader Braden Holmquist said the best part is checking out the place he'll spend the next three years, "like, seeing a whole new school, and the way it's built, and all the cool stuff you get,"

"We have sinks in our rooms, we have windows to look out, we have walls!" noted his teacher, Shelby Soeder.

In 2008, flood waters destroyed a former elementary school, and damaged two other district buildings. Students have spent the last few years in a temporary space -- located in an old mall. Federal funding, and a $19 million bond from taxpayers, helped pay to rebuild a new school for the students.

The building separates kids by grade and offers protection from severe weather. An important element, after what the district went through at Irving Elementary.

"When we were walking through that building, it was pretty sad to see all of the mud and the slime and the carpet torn out," principal Roger Wilcox recalled. "Now you come to this building and it's like Emerald City! We're so excited to be here."

They're not just unveiling a new school, they're also unveiling some new technology. All of the students and the teachers are getting iPads to enhance their learning in the classroom and at home. Of course, there's going to be a learning curve -- for both the students and the teachers.

"The adults are learning from the kids! The iPad itself is a pretty intuitive interface for kids. But we adults have learned to function in kind of a different world," explained the Director of Educational Services, Bridgette Wagoner.

"It's energizing!" Soeder told KWWL. "I learn right along with the kids."

With iPads in hand, and a new building underfoot, the kids and teachers are jumping into the new year with high expectations.

"I think there are going to be a lot of other schools looking at Waverly Shell Rock, and saying -- yep, they're on the right track," Soeder added.

The new technology does carry some responsibility for parents. Every family is required to insure their child's iPad. They are, after all, still middle school kids.

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