Northside students start school year off with campus updates; MRA builds new middle school
Students at Madison Ridgeland Academy (MRA) this year are enjoying a new middle school and cafeteria, following the completion of two major construction projects there this summer.
Schools on the Northside were busy this summer, but not with students.
Rather, crews were wrapping up work on new construction projects, major and minor renovations.
The improvements are designed to make school more enjoyable, as well as to accommodate students’ changing needs.
Among projects, MRA has wrapped up work on a new middle school building, while Jackson Academy (JA) has completed major renovations to the school cafeteria.
MRA held a ribbon cutting recently for its new middle school building and dining commons.
The middle school facility includes 22 classrooms, three STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) labs, a computer science lab, a choral music room, visual arts room, technology center, guided studies room and student services suite.
“Middle school is an important time in a students’ life, academically, spiritually, socially and emotionally,” Director of Development Leslie Dixon said. “By having our new middle school building … students will be able to grow and flourish in an age-appropriate environment structured specifically for them.”
The building is approximately 32,000 square feet.
MRA’s dining commons is approximately 10,000 square feet and will serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The facility is designed to “enhance the overall dining experience for all students” and will offer a larger serving area, dining space and food choices, Dixon said.
Among new choices, students will be able to choose sandwiches and wraps from the “Deli,” ice cream, juice blends and healthy snacks from the “Fuel Bar,” farm-to-table items from the “Trends Action Station,” and potatoes, pastas and sauces from the “Chef Station/Toppings Bar.”
Dixon declined to say how much the projects cost.
MRA has also wrapped up work on a new elementary playground. The playground includes spinning, sliding and climbing equipment, as well as areas for rest and socialization, she said.
The playground is also shaded and ADA accessible. Improvements to the play area are being funded with “Our Family Our Future: A Capital Campaign for Madison-Ridgeland Academy.” The school launched the campaign in 2017.
Students at JA will also have a better dining experience, thanks to major renovations to its cafeteria.
Work included deleting walls and adding new serving
areas to improve flow and aesthetics.
Also, new seating options have been added, with new booths, bistro tables, regular round tables and traditional school seating, said Director of Communications and Marketing Patti Wade.
Food stations are also being expanded to include a pizza oven and pizza line, a salad bar, yogurt bar and others, she said.
“Nutritional information will be provided by the vendor through the JA Web site, “she said. “The food vendor will work with coaches and nutritionists” to provide pre-game meals and catering for special events.
In addition to new food offerings, students and athletes will benefit from new artificial turf on the football field.
The multi-use surface will benefit all students. “Common uses include physical education classes, Running Club, the Fall Carnival, football games, soccer games, band, cheer and dance practice, (and) pep rallies,” Wade said.
The $400,000 project was funded by the JA Athletic Booster Club, the Jackson Academy Association and the JA Parent Association.
The turf has a 10 to 15-year lifespan.
Other schools also completed renovations this summer. Highlights are listed below.
Jackson Preparatory School:
• the addition of two new “collaborative rooms” at the Jesse L. Howell Library;
• and an expansion of the “Reality Lab,” a lab where students can learn using virtual reality.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School:
• renovated spaces for Middle School arts program to support band and choir;
• renovated football press box;
• additional space for Student Support Services at the Early Childhood Center and Lower School;
• resurfaced tennis courts;
• and the near-completion of the “Curiosity Corner,” an interactive space in the Walker Resource Center that will allow students to see how various subjects and cultures connect.
Christ Covenant School:
• resurfaced parking lot;
• and new playground equipment to help students improve fine and gross motor skills.
St. Joseph Catholic School:
• updated lighting in gym and on campus;
• painted classrooms
• new floors in every building
• and stage in Fine Arts theater repainted.
St. Richard Catholic School:
• regulation soccer goals added at playground;
• upgrades to STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) lab
• and a new 36-inch display added in the lobby to better communicate information to parents.
New Summit School:
• expansion of library;
• addition of new courtyard and playground;
• and renovations to administrative offices.
First Presbyterian Day School:
• upgrades to school office.
Madison County Schools:
• general painting and air conditioning replacements at various schools.
Jackson Public Schools and the Education Center School couldn’t be reached for comment.