MILLBURY - The "runway" is ready for Lake students and staff to strut.
|The main hallway inside the new Lake high school. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The new high school will open to the public on Sunday, two years after a tornado tore through the township, leveling the former facility.
On Wednesday, the doors were opened to the media, who toured the 144,350 square feet building, including its 28 state-of the art classrooms, warm auditorium and gleaming gym. The new rooms all branch off a long hall, dubbed the runway - yes, that's a "takeoff" from the Lake Flyers - which is 28-feet-tall at its highest point.
"My thinking is the new school, it's a gift. It's a beautiful new building. It's a gift we didn't seek out, but we should embrace," said Tim Krugh, Lake Board of Education president.
When asked to pick a favorite feature at the new high school, it was unanimous: the 500-seat auditorium.
"It's really the crown jewel of the whole building," said Superintendent Jim Witt.
The doors swung open to a sea of plush blue seats, surrounded by honey-colored wood and walls.
Krugh openly grinned as he reclined in one of the back chairs, saying the audience could clearly hear anyone who was talking far down on the stage.
|The media center inside the new Lake high school.
"It's light years ahead of the auditorium we had in the past," said band director Rick Brimmer. "A beautiful stage, theater viewing, great seating."
Board member Scott Swartz said his whole family was looking forward to attending performances. His wife, Becky, has multiple sclerosis and uses a scooter or wheelchair to get around. No longer will they have to worry about seating in this handicap-accessible auditorium, he said.
Principal Lee Herman said it's fitting that the auditorium is the star of the building since it will accommodate audiences from the elementary to the high school.
"It will really be a place that the entire district will use," he said.
The gym is ready for 2,000 fans to fill its arena-style seating. Athletic Director Dave Shaffer noted that donations paid for the banners, scoreboard and motorized flag.
The cafeteria doubles as an auxiliary gym, with curtains that pull down to protect the windows. The multi-purpose floor,
Shaffer said, can handle baseball throws and ketchup spills. It's designed to feed 900 students between the middle and high schools.
|A view of the auditorium inside the new Lake high school.
The classrooms have their own wing on the east side of the building.
Several of them, including the technology room and science lab, have movable desks that glide up and down at the touch of a button to help students better see their work or teachers' lessons.
"This," Witt said of the technology room outfitted with gleaming, new Macs, "and the science labs are the biggest upgrades in terms of academics."
In the science lab, four seats surround one desk that circle a sink. At the old high school, academics were separated from the lab.
"Now they can intertwine lab work and course work," said Curriculum Director Jodi Takats. "Kids are now reading about it and doing it at the same time."
Upstairs, the media center sits between the classrooms and lockers, looking like a teen's funky bedroom, with neon green lights over the reference desk, matching the square carpet decorations.
The shelves are still empty, but Takats said she's not in a hurry to fill them. She wants to make sure to order the right amount of non-fiction and other volumes to aid learning. The old library took a huge hit in the June 5, 2010 tornado.
|Computers and video equipment at a computer lab inside the new Lake high school.
"I don't think we saved one book out of the library," she said.
The new media center, Takats said, is designed to do a lot more than just check out books. It will be a study hall, a place for students to hone presentations and a classroom.
"This space is going to be used a lot differently," she said.
The new high school cost $25.5 million and was funded by $20.4 million in insurance, $4.8 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission and $500,000 from Kohl's Cares.
For the last two years, high school classes have been held at Owens Community College. The 2011-12 year at Lake starts Aug. 21.
An open house for the public is Sunday at 2 p.m.