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Milford Beacon
  • Milford Middle School set to close after more than 80 years of history

  • For many members of the staff and student body, Milford Middle School has all the charm of an old house full of leaks, quirks and lacking air conditioning, but steeped in nostalgia.
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  • For many members of the staff and student body, Milford Middle School has all the charm of an old house full of leaks, quirks and lacking air conditioning, but steeped in nostalgia.
    The building is in desperate need of repairs and is no longer fit to house students and staff. When the new school year begins in August, students and staff will report to the Milford Central Academy, which will house the school district’s sixth, seventh and eighth graders indefinitely. In order to build a new school the district has to prove necessity and subsequently go to a referendum to ask the community for the funds. 
    Despite stories of 110-degree temperatures in the auditorium or instances of using trash cans to catch runoff from a leaky roof, staff and students view the 84-year-old building with fondness.
    “The building is so cool looking,” said Dakota Flemming, a sixth grader at Milford Middle. “I like the way it was built. It’s kind of sad. I wanted to stay here longer.”
    Mark Hatfield, a sixth-grade math teacher, was a member of the first middle school class at Milford Middle, which was converted from a high school to a middle school in the early ’70s. Hatfield later returned to the school to teach. He has spent the last 28 years of his career at the school.
    “I’m going to miss the building. It feels like my home away from home,” he said. “I’m going to miss the routine. It’s going to be bittersweet. It will be sad leaving here. I enjoy everything about school.”
    Hatfield described the staff and students at Milford Middle School as a family, a feeling which many others have echoed.
    “I think one of my favorite memories is just getting together with students and teachers and playing basketball in the gym,” said Bryn Davis, a seventh grader at Milford Middle. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that at The Academy. It’s kind of sad that other people won’t get to experience this school.”
    The staff at Milford Middle School, many of whom have been there for more than 20 years, have formed a tight-knit community over the years.
    One of the longstanding members of the Milford Middle School family is Mike Johnson, a physical education and health teacher. Johnson went to both elementary school and high school before the building housed Milford Middle and has spent 24 years as teacher in the building.
    “I’m sad to leave,” Johnson said. “I’ve spent most of my life here. I think a lot of people will be sad to see it go.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Johnson does admit that the school has a few quirks. One rainy day he was in the cafeteria when a corner ceiling, which was below a leaky spot in the roof, burst under the weight of too much water.
    “I’m not going to miss things like that or putting trash cans under the leaky spots in the gym, but that’s part of the charm of the building,” he said.
    In many ways when staff move into the academy it will be a reunion. Many of the eighth-grade teachers taught at Milford Middle before being transferred to Central Academy. For the most part, the staff from Milford Middle will remain the same, however two very familiar faces will be in new positions. Milford Middle School Principal Nancy Carnevale will be stepping into a new role as director of secondary education and Milford Middle School Assistant Principal Mark McDaniel will be housed at the high school and will serve as supervisor of career and technical education and the arts.
    For many, one of the things that fostered such a deep connection to the school is its long history with the community of Milford.
    “Students that I’ve taught in the past come back because I’m now teaching their children,” said Nancy Poinsett, an art teacher who has been teaching at Milford Middle for 26 years. “Things really have come full circle.”
    Students are also aware of the deep roots that the school has in the community.
    “I’m going to miss this school because my mom and my grandmom both went to this school,” said seventh grader Brooklyn Williams. “The school is historical, but it think that this is what’s best for Milford.”
    Teachers have already begun to pack up their classrooms in preparation for the move to the academy. Every classroom in the school will be empty by June 7 and boxes will be unpacked at Central Academy June 10 -11, though the building will remain open until June 30 to accommodate parents.
    “As the walls start to become bare, the bulletin boards are coming down, it’s starting to hit home,” Hatfield said. “It’s a little bit like if you were in a home you’ve lived in for a long time and you’re moving to a new house, sad but exiting at the same time. We’ll miss it but we’ll all be alright.”
    The building may be empty but what gives the school life will march on.
    “I love the building. It has heart and character,” said Poinsett. “The staff brings heart to the building. When we leave we’ll bring the heart with us.”
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