Eighth graders return to Lakewood Ranch campus and get a first look at new facility.
Izabella DeToma, an eighth-grader at The Out-of-Door Academy, was the first student to walk into the new middle school facility on the Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch on Sept. 8.
She walked around with nine of her classmates taking a look at the new furniture and upgraded technology.
"I think that it's much more accessible and it'll give us more room to learn and grow as students," DeToma said.
Students and faculty celebrated the opening of the facility with a ribbon cutting Sept. 8, which was also the first day eighth graders returned to campus for in-person learning. Students had been doing e-learning since ODA started Aug. 25.
The new facility includes a fabrication lab, virtual reality and media classroom and classrooms with collapsible walls to make two rooms into one.
Joanne Barrett, the middle school instructional technology teacher, looks forward to the new opportunities the facility offers.
"It's amazing," Barrett said. "I'm excited to have a new space to explore different (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities with students inside and outside."
Eighth graders are excited to have a space they call their own that includes a quad.
"It's nice," said Katherine Triola, an eighth-grader. "It's going to be a lot better now. It makes us feel more independent to have our own building."