Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The first bell roared at New Boston School early Monday, as students finally began class in their new school building on Lakeview Avenue and the newly created Glenwood Tiger Trail. The new school building is the first for the district in almost 100 years.
After a series of false-starts, New Boston Superintendent said the first day went “smoother than anticipated.”
The district passed a local levy to build new schools in 2008, and broke ground in April 2011. The original completion date was expected to have been June 1, and was pushed to June 29 — then to July 15, then to Aug. 15, then to Sept. 5, then to Sept. 28, and then delayed to an undetermined date. Finally students had to return to school this year in the old buildings once more. Staggs said the challenge was building on such a difficult site, but noted there weren’t any other options available to the district. The site does have its own benefits also, he said, such as its location near the park, stadium, and tennis courts.
After receiving a positive report from the construction team during a school board meeting this month, Staggs informed students, faculty and staff last week that they were finally ready to begin class Nov. 19. The new building features a unique pod design, secured buildings, private entrances, larger gymnasium, music complex, wi-fi, virtual interactive white walls, and air conditioning (which the district has never had).
Some work remains to be completed — such as in the new gymnasium, which failed a safety inspection last week because the bleachers were not completely installed yet. The rest of the building passed its inspection, however, and the school was granted partial occupancy to open Monday as long as students stayed out of the gym until it is finished. Staggs said he expected the gym to be finished this week, in time for the start of the high school basketball season.
“We knew there were going to be things that weren’t ready. A lot of it is technology. Once those systems are in place then the flow of the building will be much smoother,” Staggs said.
Waiting for students to arrive for their first day on Monday, the faculty and staff were both excited and nervous. Many of them volunteered hours of their weekend to get the school ready for Monday — moving equipment, decorating rooms, and even cleaning bathrooms. When the big day finally arrived, students began at their old schools and buses delivered them to the new school, starting with seniors. At the end of the day students were picked up at the new building, and from now on this is where they will stay.
“You get very nervous about 526 students being moved in a day, and that was number one. We had people outside waiting when they arrived and teachers themselves on the bus. So the number one thing was the safety of the kids. Then once we got in, just to get them acclimated to the building, each class went through the building so they could get to know their way around a little bit. It’s going to take a while for them to get used to it,” Staggs said.
That was one of the reasons the district chose this week to start, Staggs explained. Students will only attend class for two days this week, before beginning Thanksgiving Break on Wednesday.
Second grader Luke Henson was excited to start the day, and said he liked how much bigger his new classroom is.
Senior Shawna Buckley agreed that size is the biggest difference. She said it was difficult finding her way around the building at first, but she’s already picking it up. It helps, she said, that classes are mostly contained to a single pod-area.
“That’s a lot easier because all your classes are there and you don’t have to go from one building to the next,” she said.
She’s most excited about playing in the new gym when the girl’s basketball team host their first home game Monday (next week).
Sixth grader Mark McDaniel said the new building is really “cool” and he enjoys all the new technology. He spent part of the day watching a movie in his classroom on the interactive white walls.
“It’s pretty neat,” he said. “Because also you can write on it. It’s the only wall you’re actually allowed to write on.”
He also likes the traditional bell ringing has been replaced by a tiger roar signaling the start and end of classes.
The new school building will be open for the community tours on Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m., and a special Alumni Reception at the school on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. The building dedication ceremony will be 1 p.m. on Dec. 13. The former school buildings, Stanton Primary and Oak Intermediate, are targeted for demolition in January. The Glenwood High School building has been leased to the South Central Ohio Educational Services Center.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.