By Rick Palsgrove
The old Groveport Madison High School is in its last days and, as demolition crews whittle away its walls, more and more of the new high school is becoming visible from behind the old school.
Corey Holben, project manager for Smoot Construction, said the old school will be gone and its debris removed by the end of August.
According to information from Groveport Madison Schools, all of the classroom and teacher materials from the old building were packed and moved into the new high school immediately after the school year ended. Demolition of the building began in early July.
Vince Unangst, superintendent for Smoot Construction, said demolition will progress from the south end of the building to the north.
The boys locker room is already gone. According to Unangst, from there the band room will be demolished and then the cafeteria. The gym and auditorium will go down next followed by the remaining classroom portions of the school. He said the demolition is being done in this order so a new road can be constructed in front of the new high school before school starts.
Contractors are also working on installing storm sewers and grading the site for parking lots, sidewalks and landscaping installations.
Unangst said the north and south parking lots will be ready by the first day of school. The middle parking lot, tennis courts, softball fields, and landscaping will be addressed once the school is torn down.
At the July 18 Groveport Madison Board of Education meeting, Board President Bryan Shoemaker asked why the demolition seemed to be going slowly. Holben said the work is being done methodically as contractors are recycling and salvaging materials as they progress through the demolition.
“It’s a lot of work to sort out the materials,” said Cordell Steward of Darby Creek Excavating. “It takes time. It’s more efficient to sort it as you go.”
Steward said 75 percent of the debris, by weight, has to be diverted from landfills.
“It’s recycled and reused. There’s not a lot of unusable material in the building. Most of it is salvageable,” said Steward, who added that metals go to a scrapyard and clean concrete material is sent to a facility that turns it into gravel.
“The heaviest materials – the metal and concrete – are usually the best materials to recycle,” added Unangst.
Steward also stated seven air conditioning units and two boilers were removed from the school prior to demolition to be salvaged and reused.
Steward said workers have not run into any surprises in tearing down the school.
“It’s been pretty standard,” said Steward, who said his company has taken down 10 schools in the last five years. “Schools are all constructed about the same. It’s not like demolishing a high rise building.”
Holben said security measures are in place to protect the demolition site during the project.
There is a security guard on the site at night and a frequent police presence. Fencing is also being put in place.
At an open house at the school on May 19, alumni were allowed to tour the building one last time and write messages on the cafeteria walls. Current students, upon coming to school the following week and reading the alumni messages, were inspired to also write messages on classroom walls prior to the demolition.
“The kids left some cool notes on the classroom walls,” said Holben. “All the classrooms have notes and they’re interesting to read. Most are very heartfelt and sincere.”
He said one note read, “Thank you for not giving up on me. When I started school I hated it, but now you’re my favorite teacher.”
“Lots of messages like that,” said Holben.
Keepsake bricks from the old school
Bricks from the old Groveport Madison High School are available for alumni during demolition of the building this summer, according to school district officials. The demolition contractor is maintaining a pile of salvaged bricks in front of the school near the main entrance along the service road in front of the building so the public may have a keepsake item from the school. If you stop by to get a brick, be careful, as the bricks may have wire or other sharp objects attached to them.
New high school dedication ceremony
The dedication ceremony for the new Groveport Madison High School will be held Aug. 29 from 7-9 p.m. The Groveport Madison School District extends a community-wide invitation to attend the dedication ceremony and tour the building.