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PHOTO: Battle Creek Middle School Principal Will Penner joins church and community members in prayers Wednesday ahead of the school’s first day of operation. / Photos by Alexander Willis

By ALEXANDER WILLIS

Battle Creek Middle School, Spring Hill’s newest school set to open its doors for the first time Thursday, saw church leaders, community members and teachers gather together in prayer Wednesday ahead of the upcoming school year. The group toured the entirety of the new school, saying prayers in the cafeteria, hallways and various classrooms with the hopes of a safe and productive first year of operation.

“It’s huge for all different denominations to come together, and come together as one and be willing to pray over this school,” said Ashley Brady, a teacher at Battle Creek Middle. “Some are youth pastors, some are mission outreach people, some are interns, and they’re just here to spread the word and pray over these kids and teachers.”

Brady, who has been a teacher for 11 years, lead the group through every corner of the new school, where guests noticed sticky notes stuck on the walls next to most doors and entrances.

Brady said the idea was for guests to take a sticky note, then follow up with a prayer for that particular room. Heads bowed, guest after guest joined hands in prayer to wish safety and good fortune upon rooms throughout the building.

When asked of her thoughts on the new building, Brady said she was at a loss for words.

“It’s amazing – it’s absolutely amazing,” Brady said. “I’m at a loss for words; it’s amazing, it’s outstanding, it’s shocking.”

Some of Brady’s favorite things about the new building were the wide, inviting doors to every classroom, complete with sliding doors and glass fixtures. Brady was also passionate about the collaboration areas; large, open areas scattered throughout the building with tables, chairs and outlets for students to work in a comfortable environment. But most of all, Brady said she loved a special nook nestled underneath one of the star cases, complete with dozens of books.

The book shelf, along with the dozens of books on it, didn’t appear there by itself, however. Teachers Taylor Neal and Melissa Deschamps brought the shelf and books from home, hoping to give students a place of tranquility between and after classes.

“The whole idea behind this is because this school is big on collaboration and community, we wanted all the spaces to be utilized,” Neal said. “So we saw this space and were like, ‘this would be perfect for that.’ So instead of it becoming maybe a jungle gym area, now it’s a place where kids can come and can sit somewhere and relax where it’s not conventional.”

While excited to give students a place to both relax and learn, Neal said she’s hoping to improve the nook in the future.

“Right now we’re starting off with bare bones decorations that we already had, but our hope is to one day have it to where we have pillows, and rugs and seating just for the kids to have something where they’re not sitting on the concrete,” Neal said.

Neal also said any community members who might have books, pillows or rugs they’d be willing to donate to the school are more than welcome to reach out via email, at [email protected], or to [email protected].

Before ending the tour, Battle Creek Middle Principal Will Penner gave endless thanks to the group for their well wishes, and joined them in one final group prayer.

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