By Rick Palsgrove
The public came in large numbers to wander the halls and see the new Groveport Madison High School. They were not disappointed.
The district invited the community to a dedication ceremony and open house for the new high school, located at 4475 S. Hamilton Road, on Aug. 29 Following the ceremony, where district officials and students thanked the community for the new building, an official ribbon cutting was held and then community members toured the school.
Beth Massara Bogedain, a 1974 graduate of Groveport Madison High School, remembered entering the old high school when it was new and compared that experience to her viewing the new high school for the first time on Aug. 29.
“As a freshman in the early 1970s, the high school back then was still under construction,” said Bogedain. “It was dark and scary. This new high school is absolutely phenomenal. It’s bright and airy. It breathes education.”
Speaking at the dedication ceremony, Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden said there is an “incredible amount of Cruiser Pride” in the community and that with the new high school and other educational upgrades, “Groveport Madison is on the precipice of something truly great. We can become the next destination district in the area.”
The 240,000 square foot high school can hold 1,500 students and 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.
Ogden said the school came in more than $2 million under budget.
Among the speakers at the dedication ceremony, perhaps the most meaningful one was Groveport Madison High School Student Council President and senior Skilyn Jacks, who represented the students of the past as well as those students of the present and future who will grow along with the new school and make use of what it has to offer them.
“We will never forget our memories of the old high school,” said Jacks. “We are fortunate to be surrounded by a strong, supportive community. It’s now the students’ responsibility to care for and use this school to its fullest.”
Jacks said the new school will draw more families to the district, which she said would “help strengthen the community.”
Ogden noted already the district is enrolling close to 1,000 new students this year.
Other reactions to the new high school
Here’s a sampling of what people had to say about the new high school:
•Charlotte Barker, former school board member: “I’m so overwhelmed. We worked so hard for this and to think we finally have it. And look, there’s no buckets in the gym to catch water from a leaky roof!”
•Aric Thomas, former high school principal: “I can’t stop smiling from ear to ear. I’m excited for the community and their dedication to the students.”
•Board President Bryan Shoemaker: “The community made a choice to invest in our students. We’re moving in the right direction. This new high school is a home run.”
•Dr. Jaivir Singh, current high school principal: “A building is more than walls. It’s a symbol of the community’s faith.”
•Chris Dumford, VSWC architect on the project: “My favorite thing to work on are schools because schools matter.” (At the ceremony, VSWC also donated a 3D printer for the arts and sciences at the school.)
•Chris Downing, teacher and coach: “I’ve lived in the district for 50 years, it’s good to have something the kids can be proud of. Hopefully this is just a start.”
•Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp: “This is something the community can be proud of. It’s a top notch facility. As an alumnus, it’s exciting to see this.”
Also at the ceremony, State Representative Richard Brown read a proclamation from the Ohio House of Representatives paying tribute to Groveport Madison Schools.
Ogden said a time capsule will be placed in the school’s cornerstone at a later date. Some of the items in the time capsule include: a photo of the class of 2018, the last class to graduate from the old high school; varsity letters; a band drumstick; the American flag from the old school; various photos; and programs from hall of fame inductions, Le’Veon Bell Field ceremony, the new high school dedication, and the closing ceremony of the old high school.
About the school
The two-story building’s three academic wings house 52 classrooms and contain up-to-date technology. Each wing has a couple of moveable-wall classrooms, which allows for collaboration and flexible grouping as well as a pull-out area where small groups can receive specialized instruction.
There are six science labs and 12 science classrooms. Three art rooms as well as vocal and instrumental music rooms include: one large band room (with recording capabilities), one large choir room, music practice rooms, and storage areas.
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 and two gymnasiums – a 1,500 seat competition gym and an auxiliary gym. The gym area also includes a wrestling room, locker rooms, and a physical health/weight room.
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.
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.