Keys schools get new fields and facilities - A couple of lawn chairs sitting on top of a grass covered field - Playground
The “back side” of Marathon High School shows its new softball and baseball fields and scoreboards with a concession stand nestled in between. SARA MATTHIS/Keys Weekly

The halls of learning in the Florida Keys got some much-needed improvements in 2019, which saw the opening of two brand new campuses at both ends of the island chain at Plantation Key School and Gerald Adams Elementary in Key West.

But the Middle Keys weren’t overlooked; as Marathon High School welcomed a sprawling new, $12 million athletic complex and Stanley Switlik Elementary is currently in the midst of extensive improvements.

Marathon Athletic Complex

The students of Marathon Middle High School got the first peek when they arrived for the first day of school in August. The big reveal to the public wouldn’t come until the first home football game. (Actually, the second, because the first was delayed by Hurricane Dorian’s approach.) The project includes a new combination football and soccer field, ringed by a regulation-size track, practice field, bleachers, a press box, separate softball and baseball fields and two — yes, two — concession stands. Oh, and the gym has a brand new floor for the basketball and volleyball teams. The front of the school has been reconfigured to add student parking, as well. 

Halfway at Stanley Switlik

The Christmas break marks the halfway point for the $37 million construction and renovation of Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Marathon. The older students (grades 4 and 5) have moved into the new section of the building that includes classrooms, the media center, art and music rooms. The Weekly got a sneak peek a few months ago and the views from the classrooms, plus the modular furniture in the common areas, are very cool. The younger students will move into the modular classrooms while the second building is renovated. The entire student population will be in new classrooms by the start of the 2020-21 school year.

 

Keys schools get new fields and facilities - A man standing in a room - Jean Sport Aviation Center
A young pupil takes in the 35-foot interactive mural of the Florida Keys inside Plantation Key School. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

New year, new school for Plantation Key 

Students at Plantation Key School arrived back from holiday break to a new, state-of-the-art facility on Jan. 8, 2019. Students spent the morning touring through the school, seeing for the first time 21st-century classrooms, a gymnasium — which the former facility didn’t have — and the Science on a Sphere. Located at MM 90, bayside, the 100,000-square foot school is inspiring collaborative learning for the next generation of Florida Keys students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. 

 

Keys schools get new fields and facilities - A large white building - Harvard Jolly Architecture
The colors of the sea and sky are repeated throughout the new and much-anticipated Gerald Adams Elementary School in Key West, which opened in January 2019. IMETCO/Contributed

Eye-opening updates at Gerald Adams

Students didn’t know where to look first when they returned to school after Christmas in January 2019. They also didn’t know where to go in the brand new building that features 21st-century classrooms, a new media center and cafeteria. But the most popular feature, not surprisingly, was the new playground.

“I love it,” a kindergartner told Principal Fran Herrin after recess on the first day.

College gets a new name

And finally, Florida Keys Community College finally became the College of the Florida Keys in 2019.

It took three tries to get the Florida Legislature to approve a name change that more accurately reflects the school’s expanding four-year degree programs.

The bill finally passed in 2019 and launched a tremendous rebranding effort that included a new logo, new colors and a search for a school mascot.

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