The 122,000-square-foot school, built at a cost of $17.3 million, houses kindergarten through grade 12.
PANDORA, Ohio - Four years in the making, the Pandora-Gilboa Local School was dedicated yesterday afternoon, with crowds checking out a 122,000-square-foot building that rises from a Putnam County cornfield a mile west of Pandora.
Students, parents, teachers, community leaders, and area and state officials, including Gov. Bob Taft, filled the school s gymnasium for a 75-minute ceremony led by schools superintendent Dr. Joanne Kerekes.
They marveled at the achievement of building the $17.3 million kindergarten-through-12th-grade facility, which was made possible by voter passage of a bond issue and levy in 2000.
“It was a dream of this district to have a new school for a new century,” said former school board president Tony Hixon. “Our next vision is academic and sports excellence.”
Governor Taft received kudos from many of the speakers for the 74 percent of the project s cost picked up by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
Mr. Taft returned the compliment.
“I congratulate all of you for caring about your children. This sends an important message to [them]; this community cares about education,” he said. “The purpose of this building is to help students learn more efficiently. We are living in a high-skills world economy, [and] our children need to learn at a higher level than ever before.”
District residents walk the halls of the new school during an open house and dedication ceremony yesterday. The Ohio School Facilities Commission paid for 74 percent of the cost of the project.
The governor noted that 90 percent of the school s fourth graders passed the state proficiency test last year.
“That is remarkable,” he said.
Senior class president Lisa Schulte said her fellow students were excited about the building, where classes began in December.
“We have an awesome school. Many memories will be made here,” she said.
Added Carey Arthur, faculty and levy chairman, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put our children and grandchildren on equal footing with schools all over Ohio.”
The building was a group effort in every sense.
Architect Steve Smith of Triad Architects said builders tolerated the wettest of springs, the hottest of summers, the coldest and snowiest of winters, and the collapse of three of the four gymnasium walls in 2002 during a freak thunderstorm.
“It was still a wonderful process all the way through,” he said.
Teacher Mark Shick drew the largest laugh when he noted that as the school s most senior teacher he never figured he d get to enjoy a new building.
“It comes down to being in the right place at the right time. I can t [tell you] how exciting it s been for the teachers to be a part of this vision,” he said.
Ms. Kerekes said her favorite moment during the building process was during a tour of the construction site in May. A second grader asked her whether he was going to attend school in the new building.
She told him, “You surely are.”
Responded the youngster: “Boy! We must really matter.”
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