By the time the village of New Boston passed a local tax levy in 2008 to support building a new school, it had been 90 years since the village district had a new building at all; and what followed was three years of planning, complications and setbacks. So when the district finally had their groundbreaking scheduled for April 19, they weren't going to let the rain delay them any longer.
New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs called the day a dream come true.
"It's been three years in the planning stages and we're finally set to go, and everybody — 100 percent of our school community and the village — is ready for this to happen," Staggs said. "There's been a lot of problems, and to think all those are gone. It's still almost too hard to believe."
Soil was brought from the building site on Lakeview Avenue into the New Boston Stadium for the ceremonial turning of dirt. Unlike most groundbreaking ceremonies where only five or six people cracked the earth, more than 500 teachers, students and invited guests had their own shovels.
Special invited guests included Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson, Scioto County Commissioner and New Boston graduate Skip Riffe, Executive Director of the Ohio School Facilities Commission Rick Hickman, New Boston Village Council, New Boston School Board, superintendents from other Scioto County school districts, State Board of Education member Jeff Hardin, and a representative for Sen. Sherrod Brown.
At the beginning of the ceremony, school employee Jon Wickline recounted the history of the district as the skies opened up as if on cue, and the rain began falling harder. But nobody moved from their seats. They had waited too long for this day.
"New Boston Schools have had a long and storied history. Since its beginning in 1893 as a one-room building on Stanton Avenue, we have had classes in a saloon building, we've had classes in a Presbyterian church," Wickline said. "Stanton and Oak Street schools were finished in 1913, with Stanton serving as our first high school. In 1917, the present day high school building was opened and a contest was held among the students to name the school. It came down to Woodrow or Glenwood, and of course Glenwood won out. Today, we are making history again."
He said the new school will prepare future generations of students for jobs and careers that haven't even been thought of yet.
Rep. Johnson stood in the rain as he delivered a few comments on behalf of Sen. Tom Neihaus.
"He would be proud, as I am, of this project. There is no school district more deserving of this building than New Boston," Johnson said.
Sen. Brown also issued a statement in a news release Tuesday.
"This groundbreaking is a major accomplishment for the village of New Boston," he said. "As the village's first new school building in almost 100 years, this facility will provide children with a modern environment that encourages learning and supports development."
New Boston Mayor James Warren also participated with members of Village Council and other village employees. Before becoming mayor in 1993, Warren spent 28 years as an elementary teacher and principal at New Boston School. He said the current school administration has shown good leadership in developing this new building.
"This is a great day for the village of New Boston, and students. We've come a long way since 1917. Our school programs have been very successful. I think today helps show what the community is doing in support of the school by passing the levy so we can build a new school for students. It'll have a big impact on New Boston; for the future, for growth and for the academics."
With the groundbreaking now officially complete, work is expected to begin in the coming weeks. Staggs said the building will be open in August 2012 in time for the start of the 2012-13 school year.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.