Ellis to hold open house

Published 3:25 pm Monday, October 18, 2010

Ellis Middle School in Austin will be hosting an open house Oct. 19 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. to showcase the results of its expansion and renovation program, which added 15,500 square feet to the building.

Because of the expansion project, which began in mid-April, middle school students enjoy more classrooms, a large kitchen space, an even larger multi-purpose gym room and state-of-the-art science labs.

One of the largest additions to Ellis is the creation of two new science classrooms and the renovation of another. The classrooms, which were sponsored by the Hormel Foundation, Hormel Foods Corporation, Austin Packaging Company and donations by Dick and Nancy Knowlton, come equipped with cutting edge teaching stations.

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Because of the amount of space inside the new multi-purpose gymnasium, which also serves as the cafeteria, students eat lunch at bigger tables that can seat eight students. Last year’s tables sat four to five or – if students squeezed together – a maximum of six.

The multi-purpose room isn’t being used for gym classes this year, however. School officials decided against scheduling gym classes in the new gymnasium since they didn’t know if the room’s flooring system would be completed on time. Everything was finished on schedule though, and the multi-purpose room will be used for athletics and other activities.

Thanks to the building additions, the computer labs at Ellis were moved into the area where the old cafeteria used to be, freeing up the rooms they previously occupied to be used as classrooms, which helps ease some of the space restriction problems and reduces the middle school’s average class size.

A brief conference will be held at 4:30 p.m., featuring Hormel Foundation Chair Richard Knowlton, Hormel Foods CEO Jeffrey Ettinger and Austin Packaging Company President Jim Heimark as speakers. Visitors can enjoy tours and interactive displays after the conference.