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**Top Choices Revealed by Hobbs Committee for Innovative Middle School Design**

Hobbs committee announces top selections for the design of a new middle school

By Andy Brosig/News-Sun

The Middle School Design Team of Hobbs Municipal Schools has narrowed down its choices to three top proposals from a pool of six designs reviewed at their recent meeting held at the HMS District Office. These three design proposals are currently being refined by the regional engineering and architectural firm Parkhill. The committee is scheduled to reconvene on April 9 to assess the revised proposals and make the final selection for the new middle school in Hobbs.

This new middle school is a key component of a $50 million bond project sanctioned by voters the previous year. The subsequent phase of the project involves the construction of a new middle school to replace the existing Heizer Middle School on Stanolind Road. Construction is slated to commence towards the end of 2025, with the first cohort of students expected to attend in 2027.

All three proposals entail a two-story school building, each presenting unique advantages and drawbacks, as conveyed by committee members to the News-Sun. The prospective site for the new school, situated in northern Hobbs, is positioned southeast of the intersection of Millen Drive and North Grimes Street.

The preferred design among the initial six proposals, known as the Eagle Wing design, proposes construction on the western side of a new road branching off Millen Drive. The layout includes two drop-off zones, with the main entrance and administrative suite situated on the southern end of the building, according to Parkhill architect Jeff Reed.

The ground floor on the western side houses sixth-grade and special education classrooms, along with supplementary facilities such as the library, athletics area, family and consumer science rooms, fine arts section, and cafeteria space. The upper level accommodates seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms. Additionally, the athletic offices and gymnasiums offer direct access to a new football field to be erected east of the building.

In terms of popularity, the second proposal, named the Hubs option, positions the school on the western side of the proposed new entrance road. The administration and main entrance are centrally located within the building’s southern section, with an extended drop-off lane granting access to a secondary feeder road from the new main road originating from Millen Drive. The western wing houses the gymnasium and other athletic facilities, providing convenient entry to the football field. Academic classrooms are housed in a two-story structure on the eastern side of the building, with sixth-grade and special education classes on the first floor and higher grades on the second floor.

The final design, referred to as Cross Path, also initially situates the school on the western side of the new main road. Described as a hybrid of the Hub plan, Cross Path features the main entrance and administrative suite at the center of the southern facade. Academic classrooms extend east and west from the administrative area, maintaining the division by grade level between the two floors. The northwest corner houses the athletics section, including the gymnasium, with direct access to the football field. This design also ensures a separate space for fine arts, including drama, north of the gymnasium area, with convenient access to the cafeteria located centrally within the building.

All three shortlisted proposals emphasize the utilization of natural light to reduce energy consumption. Moreover, they are designed to facilitate the segregation of the gymnasium and cafeteria areas from the rest of the school building to accommodate concession services during events.

Kesa Offutt, a committee member and Houston Middle School music teacher, expressed her preference for the Eagle Wing design due to its layout of athletics and drama areas. One consideration under review by Parkhill designers is the inclusion of a stage in the cafeteria area to host various community events, concerts, and parent engagement activities.

Drew Rickman, Assistant Principal at Houston Middle School and a proponent of the Eagle Wing option, highlighted the benefit of separating noisy activities from academic spaces to minimize distractions for students. He also noted the accessibility of gyms and football fields for public use without traversing the entire school premises.

As the project looks ahead to potential replacements for Houston and Highland middle schools, the design process includes assessing how the new middle school designs could integrate into the existing sites of the older schools. Parkhill assured the committee that each of the three designs could be adapted with minimal adjustments to fit the current middle school locations.

While none of the proposals finalized last week are definitive, Parkhill is exploring the possibility of amalgamating elements from all designs to create an optimal final plan before commencing construction. The flexibility to adjust and fine-tune the designs was well-received by committee members, acknowledging the iterative nature of the design process to meet the school’s requirements effectively.