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Haile Middle to offer new opportunities with 10-classroom addition

The addition, expected to be complete in the spring, will expand the school's robotics and agriscience programs.

Carlos E. Haile Middle School is undergoing a campuswide renovation and will have a new 10-classroom addition.
Carlos E. Haile Middle School is undergoing a campuswide renovation and will have a new 10-classroom addition.
Courtesy rendering
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Jessica Jones, the agriculture teacher at Carlos E. Haile Middle School, packed up her classroom before winter break began Dec. 22.

She was preparing to temporarily move from her classroom to a portable as her classroom is part of a renovation.

But her time in the portable will be short-lived as she'll be able to move into the school's newest building as soon as March, and she can't wait.

Moving her classroom into the new 10-classroom addition will allow Jones and her students to be next to the barn and agriculture area outside and also expand agriscience opportunities.

The addition also will be home to a new robotics lab.

Irene Nikitopoulos, the principal at Haile Middle, said the completion of the addition will allow the school to offer new opportunities for students.

“We need the space for both programs because our programs are thriving already,” she said.

Work continues on the 10-classroom addition at Carlos E. Haile Middle School. The addition is expected to be complete in late March, early April.
Photo by Liz Ramos

She said students and their parents are considering Haile Middle for school choice as a result of programs such as robotics and agriscience. 

Haile Middle will receive aquaponics equipment from Braden River High School to explore a new facet of agriculture, Jones said. Aquaponics is a part of aquaculture in which the waste farmed fish produced supply nutrients for plants grown hydroponically. 

Jones said students have shown interest in aquaculture and are excited to learn something new. 

“We’ve talked about how the kids would even catch the fish we raise and we’ll learn how to filet them,” she said. “I noticed over the last year when I surveyed the kids that a lot of the non-ag boys that are in ag didn’t realize that fishing and aquaculture are a part of agriculture.”

When Jones walks out of her classroom in the addition, she’ll be able to walk directly into the land lab where the school’s barn and new greenhouse are located. 

“We don’t have a lot of land so to be able to have these smaller, different facets of agriculture available for the kids is going to be amazing,” Jones said. 

Nikitopoulos said agriculture students lose about 10 minutes of instructional time simply by having to walk to and from the classroom's current location to the land lab. 

The new robotics lab also will give students new opportunities. 

Tony Vasile, the robotics and coding teacher, said the robotics class needs plenty of space in order to have a Vex robotics table, storage for all the robots students build and materials and collaboration areas.

“We’ll have the advantage of even better space, upgraded computers, better networking, appropriate power connections and much more usable robot operating space because right now we’re just in the middle of the room on the floor,” Vasile said. 

The new robotics lab will have computers for each student in a collaborative area so students can easily work together while also having the space to work on their robots next to the computers. 

Haile Middle created a robotics and coding elective this year, which has become popular with more than 200 students wanting to enroll. Vasile said the course allows students to continue pursuing their interest in robotics that might have stemmed from their experience in elementary school and lead into high school. 

He said next year, he will create a high school level of robotics curriculum that will be aligned with what is taught in high school to ensure students are prepared. 

The new addition at Carlos E. Haile Middle School will allow for more space for the robotics program.
Photo by Liz Ramos

Nikitopoulos said the new robotics lab will allow more students to be able to participate in the robotics and coding course as well as help students prepare to participate in more competitions.

“We are the only school that has an exclusive robotics teacher, and (students are) building upon whatever they’ve learned in elementary school,” she said.

Nikitopoulos said Visale also has started a radio club as an extracurricular, which will meet in the robotics lab once it’s complete. 

The school also is undergoing a campuswide renovation, and the first phase of the renovation was completed in December. 

The renovation includes the replacement of mechanical and plumbing systems, new roofing, improvement of the technology infrastructure and building improvements such as the windows, doors and insulation systems. 

Site improvements include storm water and repairs to canopies, concrete walks and associated drainage. Campus safety improvements include a more secure administrative area, secured perimeter fencing and electronic access control at every building. 

The renovation of the school is expected to be complete in the summer of 2024. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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