Matapeake Middle School & 9th Grade Academy
This new middle school is located on Kent Island on the western end of Queen Anne’s County, which serves as the gateway to Maryland’s scenic Eastern Shore. The school, based on a nautical design of a ship’s hull, was sited on a portion of land that currently serves the recently constructed Matapeake Elementary School. Utility infrastructure was provided for the new middle school during the construction of Matapeake Elementary School, and similarly the school uses a geothermal system for heating and cooling. The projected capacity of the new middle school is 800 students serving 6th to 8th grades. Initially, up to 500 middle school students were served in grades 6–8 with 300 9th grade students also sharing a portion of the building to relieve overcrowding at the Kent Island High School. These students retained their Kent Island High School identity and were located on the second floor of the school as a 9th grade academy. This interaction between middle and high school grade levels had not been explored before in the State of Maryland.
The plan is organized around a grade-level cluster or village arrangement for the middle school and two small learning communities for the 9th grade academy to help reduce the scale of this 800-student facility. These smaller “schools within a school” serve as a vehicle for supporting and encouraging the fundamental curriculum practices of the school system and creating a friendlier educational atmosphere. The cluster organization of self-contained traditional classrooms is utilized to support the cooperative teaching and multi-aged/level groupings emphasized by the curriculum practices.
A clear circulation system (keel of a boat) easily understood by students, parents, community, and visitors is the main design feature of the project. This serves as the lobby for the main public use spaces (physical education suite with stage, cafeteria, and music suite) and provides the link between the public spaces and the educational areas. The administration area is centrally located to oversee the access of all students, parents, and visitors to the school and to the main corridor.