August 30, 2011
ELIDA — Sarah Burden stood at the door of her new school Tuesday morning. The Elida High School principal greeted students and answered their questions. In some ways it was no different than any other first day of school. But in one way, it couldn't be any different.“Now we are finally here and it is just surreal,” Burden said.Tuesday marked the first day of school at the new 169,000-square-foot building, located west of the middle school near Baxter and North streets. And aside from a few turns down a wrong hallway, students and staff were all smiles.“It's a hectic experience the first day. You don't really know where you are going, but it is nice. It it beautiful. I love it,” junior Anthony Sumpter said.“It is a nice change from the old building,” said sophomore Andrea Stocker, who added that the new technology afforded by the building is a welcome to students. “I think it is going to get us more interactive, more onto our level with what we are used to.”Voters approved a bond issue in 2008 to support the $39.75 million project. It took three tries to get it passed. The former 95-year-old building is being demolished, and after spending a day at the new high school, won't be missed much by too many.“The old school had a little character and I miss part of it, but you can't beat this new school. It is really nice,” said Mark Thompson, who teaches health and physical education.Highlights of the new building include the 670-seat auditorium, a 1,200-seat gymnasium, an auxiliary gym, media center with computer lab, an outside practice field for the marching band, geothermal heating and cooling and air handlers that circulate fresh air.“The old school is just old,” Sumpter said. “We are just tired of it, and it is superhot. There is air conditioning here.”The auditorium is getting a lot of praise, especially considering it is a first for the school. The old “makeshift” auditorium was the gymnasium. Sumpter and Stocker both sing in the choir and say performing in the auditorium will be a lot better than at the old school.The auditorium and music areas are what stands out for Burden.“They are just so much different from what they were at the old high school,” she said. “So much more spacious, so many more opportunities for those kids.”Thompson started his 30th year teaching Tuesday. Being in his new home was almost hard to believe.“I really didn't think I would ever be in a new building. I just didn't see it happening,” he said. “I'm glad I was able to be around to be part of it. ... “This is going to be a great learning environment for our students.”An open house at the new building will be from at 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 25. The dedication will begin at 2 p.m. A grand opening for the auditorium is set for 2 p.m. Oct. 9.