The Move Between Schools by Emily
Hundreds of students have now graduated from eighth grade at Monument Valley, but this was not always a major middle school in Great Barrington. Before MVM existed, Searles middle school in downtown Great Barrington was the main public school. The school building still exists, but the school is no longer in operation.
Before MVM was built, there was a vote about the new school. Everyone agreed that Searles was outdated, but had contrasting ideas on how to fix the problem. One side wanted to not build the school, and instead update Searles. The other side wished to shut down Searles and build MVM. When the votes were counted, shutting down Searles was the winning option. Now that years have gone by since the vote, some teachers who have taught at both schools weigh in about which one they prefer.
The general consensus about the move is that it was a good idea. Diane Arnold, a science teacher at MVM and a previous teacher at Searles, prefers MVM and thinks it has better facilities. “It was exciting to be in a new facility that has more modern...it had all new technologies, and I had bigger labs, so that stuff was all great.” Arnold liked the technology of MVM better, but did mention she missed the layout of Searles, especially the separation between grades. “The fifth grade and the sixth grade were housed in a different building...the rest of Searles was very separate, I sort of liked that separation, it was like we were our own school.”
Carole Aberdale, another teacher who is currently at MVM but previously taught at Searles, voted against the move. Instead, she wanted to update Searles. “I actually voted not for the new school, I voted for updates to Searles...there’s too much history, I think, you walked into Searles, and there was that feeling that you were part of a family, without all the bells and whistles.” Many teachers agree that Searles had more of a community, since it was in the middle of Great Barrington. The students could walk around town, visit shops, and connect with the townspeople. They could the shops for Halloween window painting easier, and without a bus. Also, students could walk to school together.
Brendan Heck, an ELA teacher at MVM and a former student at Searles, has a different perspective than most. He has both a teacher and a student viewpoint. Overall, he prefers MVM, stating that there are outdoor areas, the building is modern, there is heat control, and the rooms are better. “I prefer this building [Monument Valley] by a landslide. It’s more modern, it has air conditioning, it has heat that works...the rooms are much more conducive to learning.”
Each teacher at the school seemed to have a different opinion, but there were some similarities between each account. Searles had more of a community, most likely because it was in downtown Great Barrington. This is an element that MVM is lacking in. However, MVM is a much better building. Weighing the pros against the cons, teachers have come to different conclusions based on their experiences and parts of the school they consider important to them.
Every teacher, no matter their preference, enjoyed both schools, albeit for different reasons. Future generations might learn more about Searles from the teachers at MVM.