On Sunday afternoon inside of a packed gymnasium in the sparkling, state-of-the-art new high school, the Miami Trace Local School District simultaneously celebrated its rich history and ushered in a bright new era with a dedication ceremony.
The community was invited to join district officials, staff and students for the dedication and ribbon-cutting, and they came out in droves for the event. Before cutting the ribbon to commemorate the brand-new facility, the district reflected on the journey getting to this point in its history.
“In 2008, the Miami Trace Local School District opened its doors to the current elementary building,” said Kim Pittser, assistant superintendent. “In 2009, the central office facility was established. In 2010, the transportation and maintenance facility was constructed. In 2011, Miami Trace Middle School joined the campus, and today, January 27th, 2019, we celebrate the final piece of the puzzle — Miami Trace High School.”
The new high school, located east of the football stadium, will replace the existing high school that opened in 1962. High school students will move into the building Feb. 20.
Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis welcomed the many in attendance and introduced those joining him on the stage: MT Board of Education members, Charlie Andrews (president), Bruce Kirkpatrick (vice president), Rob Dawson and Dave Miller (board member Mike Henry was unable to attend); administrative team members Kim Pittser, treasurer Debbie Black, business manager Bill Franke, high school principal Rob Enochs, high school assistant principal Bryan Sheets, and secondary curriculum director Katie Abbott; and special guests, pastor Bruce Morrison from Heritage Church, Stacy Thomas, project manager for Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, Josh Predovich, project manager for SHP Leading Design, and Bill Mullett, project manager for Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc.
“This is truly a special day for Miami Trace as we present our new high school to you today, and inch closer to opening for students in three weeks,” said Lewis. “As Mrs. Pittser mentioned during her opening remarks, this building serves as the final piece to the puzzle for our district campus, providing our students with some of the finest educational facilities in the state of Ohio. We are excited for the instructional opportunities and valuable life lessons that future generations of Miami Trace Panthers will be provided by attending this wonderful facility.”
Lewis also took the opportunity to thank the Miami Trace taxpayers, the campaign committee members, district employees and of course, the students. He added that he cannot wait for the students’ first day in the new high school.
“I’m going to sit in the commons and watch the students as they navigate through their new school,” he said. “Students, I hope you realize how fortunate you are to attend school in this new 21st century learning environment.”
Charlie Andrews, school board president and 1966 graduate of Miami Trace High School, said this grand opening was an emotional time for him.
“When the last building was dedicated in 1962, I was a freshman there,” Andrews said. “Miami Trace has always been a big part of my life. The original building served its purpose well. There have been 10,696 students who graduated from that building. It will always be remembered and cherished by those of us that went there and for those of us who served there in any capacity.”
Andrews said the new high school is the culmination of a vision created by Miami Trace employees, students and community members.
“They emphasized that the new school should be open, it should be flexible, it should have modern technology, it needs to be safe, it needs to have natural lighting, be comfortable and be functional,” he said. “Our staff had a tremendous amount of input into the design of this building.”
Josh Predovich, the project manager from SHP Leading Design, spoke about the long and successful relationship between his firm and Miami Trace schools, dating back over 20 years.
“Over that time, with partnership from the Ohio Facility Construction Commission, this team has worked together to develop state-of-the-art educational facilities for the elementary, middle school and with today’s dedication, the high school student body,” Predovich said. “With the generous support of the community, the high school students of Miami Trace are moving into a new facility that supports multiple modes of educational delivery. As you walk the halls of this building, no longer will you see long rows of double loaded corridors with the same classroom after classroom, but teaching studios surrounding extended learning spaces that take advantage of every square foot available.”
Business manager Bill Franke talked about the timeline that began nearly 15 years ago in the district’s efforts to rebuild its facilities:
– The district applied for consideration for state funding to help construct a centralized elementary school. Miami Trace was notified of shared funding approval in the fall of 2004. The community passed the bond issue for the elementary in November 2005, and the building opened for students in August 2008.
– Following state approval for shared funding for a new middle school, in August 2008 voters approved a bond issue for the construction of a new middle school, which opened in February 2011.
– In November 2009, the district opened a new central office administrative building.
– In October 2010, the new transportation facility was opened in order to provide adequate support for the transportation fleet — a fleet which travels a combined total of nearly 5,000 miles each school day.
– And now — the new high school: a 162,000 square foot facility designed with a large amount of input from staff and students intended to serve students for the 21st century.
“In addition to the community and our staff, this accomplishment has taken the commitment of thousands of people — from architects and construction managers, to steel workers, electricians, plumbers, pavers, painters and roofers. Many of these folks live in our community, and are here today, and should be proud of their contributions to our beautiful school campus,” said Franke.
While preparing for the move-in date for students, Franke said there is still more work to do, including: the upcoming contents auction at the old high school, the old high school demolition, and rebuilding the home football stands and related infrastructure.
“When I started with the district way back in 1991, the district consisted of 10 school buildings scattered throughout Fayette County. We only dreamed of features such as centralized air conditioning, advanced school safety features, gymnasiums that didn’t flood, handicapped-accessibility, the internet, wi-fi, laptops, interactive whiteboards and online curriculum,” said Franke. “Features of modern school buildings that we now take for granted were not even a remote possibility for our kids. We are now proud that our students will be educated in safe and efficient schools that have features that rival any school in the nation, while helping to prepare our kids for their future success.”
Along with the dignitaries who presented Sunday’s program, class presidents of Miami Trace High School were invited to participate in the ribbon-cutting: senior Tori Evans, junior Cole Enochs, sophomore Sam Braden and freshman Bryce Bennett.
The high school Soundsations, jazz band and cheerleaders also entertained during the dedication. Following the event, many community members took self-guided tours of the new school.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica