East Gets a Glow-Up

East Gets a Glow-Up

Emma Souza, Staff Writer

Wayzata East Middle School has undergone renovations for the past school year, updating numerous facilities around the building. The updates have opened many new opportunities and programs to improve the student’s day-to-day schedules and increase productivity.

According to Michael Rice, the Associate Principal at East, the school updated their media center, sixth grade locker banks, and added a new fitness center and stage. 

Rice has been the Associate Principal for five years, overseeing the school’s renovations and changes in the learning environment.

The district is rapidly growing in students and the district is trying to sort them into schools within Wayzata. “That contributes to how the renovations are made, and which school gets them first. Middle schools don’t make the renovation decisions, but the district does. They are trying to make all middle schools have equal opportunities with different and current learning spaces,” said Rice.

Although many changes have occured within the school, the stage is arguably the most beneficial. Prior to the 2019-2020 renovations, the theater department at East had to travel to another middle school, Wayzata Central, for their performances. Olivia Lempart, a seventh grader in the theater department, is glad they now have a stage of their own.

“It’s really exciting to have a stage . . . this my favorite spot because me and the cast are going to perform Hawk Junior. Before we went to Central to do our productions,” said Lempart.

 The updated media center and fitness rooms are popular as well. The media center is refurbished with an array of breakout rooms, modernizing the school. The fitness rooms include new mirrors, equipment, and a beautiful view of East’s forest-filled backyard.

The renovations took longer than expected, trailing into winter of 2020 when it was scheduled to end in fall 2019. Rice claims the renovations were quite stressful, as they affected outdoor activities, physical education classes, and distracted the students during class. However, Rice believes the students did a good job working around it. 

Lempart agrees, stating, “It was really loud, and everyone just wanted to look out the windows to see the construction workers, but once it was done it wasn’t distracting.”

The school’s curriculum is evolving along with the building. In the past school year, the grading system switched between the number grading scale to the more common letter grading system. Student thoughts on this grading change differ in opinion.

“I prefer the letter system,” Lempart comments. “There’s -A’s, and +B’s—it gives you more of an idea of what you got.”

Another seventh grader at East disagrees. When asked which he likes more, he leaned away from the letter system. “It’s more complicated, and it’s hard to calculate what your grade is going to be.” 

Despite the contrasting viewpoints, East is doing a good job in their academic performances. Rice states 80% of 8th graders are at academic proficiency. His goal is to get everyone up to that proficiency level, challenging those above it and helping those below it. 

“East is proud of our literacy rate . . . I am pushing to work on interventions, and trying to challenge students to be good friends . . . and give kids what they need to build a good capacity for their brain and education,” said Rice.

Another major academic change is scheduled for the district next school year. The health classes are currently required exclusively for 8th graders, but will be offered to every grade next year.

Mr. Rice is excited for what the school’s future holds. He comments, “The future of East is academic focus and culture, working on how to maximize our space, and preparing students for high school and beyond.”