By Rick Palsgrove
Only five buildings have served as the high school for Groveport Madison Schools in the 170 year history of the district.
Now a new era begins for the district as it is set to open its new high school, a building that seeks to fulfill the role as a focal point of academics, the arts, and athletics for students and the community.
The community is invited to a dedication ceremony and open house for the new high school, located at 4475 S. Hamilton Road, on Aug. 29 from 7-9 p.m. Following the ceremony and the official ribbon cutting, community members will be able to tour the school.
The 240,000 square foot school was built at a cost of about $60 million. The total base budget was $53 million with Groveport Madison’s share being $24.9 million (47 percent local share) and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission share being $28.1 million (53 percent state share). About $8 million of the project was locally-funded initiatives.
The school’s design is innovative and the building also has a comfortable feel to it.
“It’s attractive, yet practical,” said Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner of the new high school. “It’s both contemporary and timeless.”
The two-story building’s three academic wings house 52 classrooms that average 820 square feet in size and contain up-to-date classroom technology.
High school principal Dr. Jaivir Singh said the average classroom size in the old high school was only slightly smaller, however there were fewer classrooms there.
“Last year, we operated with 11 teachers moving from classroom to classroom with their materials on a cart as well as 12 modular classrooms that made students exit the building to change classes, which created safety concerns,” said Singh. “The new building also offers a new high-bay area which will house the new construction trades certificated pathway, a studio production lab that will house the interactive media certificated pathway, as well as updated athletic areas that will allow flexibility in practice schedules and keep our student athletes in our building.”
The three classroom wings are grouped by subject matter and grade levels.
Singh said the majority of freshman and sophomore courses are located on the second level, while junior and senior classrooms are located on the first floor.
“Related arts courses are typically towards the rotunda where all of the wings meet,” said Singh. “We felt students could typically stay within their wing for the majority of their classes. One of the best features of the new building is the ability to quickly close down the academic wings from the main, athletic, and attendance areas.”
Singh said each wing has a couple of moveable-wall classrooms, which allows for classroom collaboration and flexible grouping as well as a pull-out area where small groups can receive specialized instruction.
“The extended-learning-areas, at the end of each wing, provide opportunities for students to ‘plug-in’ to monitors to collaborate on presentations, online-learning modules, and give them the ability to access and present shared classroom resources,” said Singh.
There are six science labs and 12 science classrooms.
“Now we have classrooms and lab spaces that are specifically designed for their intended purpose,” said Singh.
He said, for example, the outer wing science labs are classified as chemistry labs.
“They have specialized table tops that can handle chemical spills, chemical showers, protective fume hoods that allow for teacher demonstration,” said Singh. “A few of our science classrooms have a shared lab space, so one teacher can present the lesson while another works through a lab activity.”
There are three art rooms as well as vocal and instrumental music rooms that include: one large band room (with recording capabilities), one large choir room, music practice rooms, and storage areas.
“The art labs allow for greater expansion of the art programs,” said Singh. “Our new ceramics lab comes complete with 16 pottery wheels, in-lab floor drainage, and three firing kilns.”
Additional educational spaces include specialized learning areas, a lecture hall, production career-technical lab, business/computer lab, production lab, child development lab, life skills lab, business classroom, equipped special needs classroom, and a library/media center with a multi-media production room.
There’s a 600 seat auditorium with an orchestra pit and state of the art lighting, sound, projection, scene shop, dressing rooms, and overhead catwalk system.
Where the previous high school had one gymnasium, the new school has two – a 1,500 seat competition gym and an auxiliary gym.
“Having a main and an auxiliary gymnasium allows us to have multiple events or classes going on at the same time,” said Warner. “We can have physical education classes taking place at the same time as volleyball practice. It enables us to host large athletic events, such as district and/or state tournaments, which generates revenue for our athletic department. The extra space also allows us to host large community events, athletic or otherwise.”
The gym area also includes a wrestling room, locker rooms, and a physical health/weight room.
A spacious cafeteria dining and commons area adorned in the school colors of red and black welcomes visitors once they enter the school’s front door. This area also serves as lobby space for large events in auditorium and gym.
The school is equipped with modern security and safety features including central locking doors with instantaneous lockdown capability, security cameras and monitoring systems, key fob credential access, fire walls that divide the structure into five sub-buildings, automatic sprinkler system, and a separate bus loop and parking areas.
Singh said student safety and security was a major focus during the design and building process.
“VSWC Architects and Smoot construction did a fantastic job designing the building with student success in mind,” said Singh.
The building is air conditioned and contains high efficiency mechanical and lighting systems as well as enhanced natural lighting. It is handicap accessible with an elevator serving both levels.
The landscaping, tennis courts, and softball fields be completed late this fall.
The first day of school will be Sept. 4.
“The kids and the community will be proud of this school,” said Warner.