By WARREN DILLAWAY - email@example.com
AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP —
It has been more than 70 years since Mary Etta Montgomery graduated from Austinburg High School.
On Sunday she gathered with her community to celebrate the opening of the recently completed Austinburg Elementary School just south of the school she graduated from seven decades ago.
The old school has been demolished and is now the parking lot for the new school.
“I love it I think it is beautiful,” Montgomery said after helping cut the ribbon to symbolically dedicate the school that has been running at full tilt for six weeks.
More than 50 people attended a short ceremony that included students, boy scouts, administrators, teachers, state officials and members of the building team.
“I will never forget the first day of fifth grade,” said Kamryn Passov of her experience of helping open the school. She said it was fun to be the first one to sit in her new desk at the new school.
“There are many more phenomenal things at the new school. The new equipment makes school so much more fun,” said Erin Korn, also a fifth grader at the school.
Jordan Vencill, also a fifth grader, closed out the students comments about the new school. “I still have feelings for the old school, but I love the new one too,” she said.
Austinburg Elementary school principal Kaye Haskins said she was thankful that the school was completed in time to move in at the beginning of the school year; which was not possible for several other Geneva Area City Schools buildings that opened in the last several years.
“We didn’t have some of the challenges some of the other buildings had,” Haskins said.
GACS Board of Education President Ford Behm said it has been a long journey and thanked the community for making it all a possible.
“The residents told us they wanted a school in each community,” Behm said of a survey done 12 years ago at the beginning of the building process. He said the residents also asked the board of education to keep the tax millage around 6 mills (5.96).
Michael Scaparotti of Scaparotti Construction Group said it is a bittersweet time for his company. “This is an exciting day and a sad day as we are nearing the end of the building process,” he said.
Scaparotti said it is time for the builders to leave and the students and community to enjoy the new buildings.
Architect Robert Steines, of Balog, Steines, Hendricks and Manchester Architects, Inc., said the experience was a bit like the birthing process.
“It kind of makes me feel like having a baby,” he said of the final school opening of the five new buildings in the school district.
“Take care of your baby and she will take care of you for many years to come,” Steines said.
School officials gathered with Montgomery and other area leaders and educators to cut a ribbon to officially dedicate the new school.