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Henley Middle School will start out the school year today with a host of seismic, HVAC, and lighting upgrades, as well as a $1.12 million addition to the main building’s campus.

Crews spent the summer constructing the 6,800-square-foot building, which houses four new classrooms for eighth grade math, science, English, and U.S. History. The building can hold 35 students per classroom and 140 students total, according to school officials in a previous H&N story about the project.

All of the final inspections of the addition are finished, though some work is still needed to finish retrofitting the main middle school building for seismic upgrades.

“There’s a few stages of the (seismic) work that’s going to happen during school but it’s going to happen during swing shift hours,” said Dennis Zullo II, project manager at the school district.

The district also replaced the middle school’s boiler, which serves as a new backup for the school for its geothermal heating system.

Zullo said the district is getting a $14,000 incentive back from Energy Trust of Oregon for the boiler as well as incentives for the eighth grade building’s new lighting and heating ventilation and cooling systems.

Zullo said there was only about two months to finish the eighth grade building.

“Our guys have been working 10-hour days,” Zullo said. “We’ll get to take our break after the kids are all in school.”

Teachers were also hard at work on Thursday setting up their new classrooms and planning for the big day.

Music echoed from Rob Crebbin’s classroom as he and his family happily helped him put together his new classroom on Thursday. It’s his 19th year at Henley Middle School and he’s excited to start it in a new space.

“This is like the Taj Mahal compared to what I was in,” Crebbin said.

Crebbin is enthusiastic about new technology in the classroom and the newness of the building for students in his U.S. history classes.

“I like that it’s separate, kind of out of the chaos of the hallways,” he added. “I think Klamath County School District did a fantastic job.”

Zullo was one of Crebbin’s students when he attended Chiloquin High School through junior year, finishing his senior year in California in 1986.

“He was a pretty cool teacher,” Zullo said.

Across the hall from Crebbin is Gina McCuiston, who was busy finding space for book collections for her new English classroom. It’s her second year teaching at Henley Middle School, but she isn’t new to teaching, with a dozen years in the profession.

“I’m super excited with the technology, that’s No. 1 for sure,” McCuiston said. “We had SMART technology over there but they were very old. So I used to call it my stupid SMART board because it didn’t do what I wanted it to do,” she added with a laugh.

Not so this time.

“This will be very usable so I’m very excited with the possibilities,” she said.

McCuiston was also surprised by the size of the classrooms.

“I didn’t anticipate this much room,” McCuiston added.

She’s even thinking about adding some flexible seating to the room this year with the new space.

“I like to use a lot of group work so there will be plenty of space for those kiddos to spread out and get that work done,” McCuiston said.