|Lake holds open house 8-5-12|
|Written by DEBBIE ROGERS, Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Sunday, 05 August 2012 20:24|
MILLBURY— They packed the parking lot, crushed through the doors and crowded into the high school.
And it wasn’t even a Genoa game.
It was the grand opening of the new Lake High School, rebuilt and ready to go for the 2012-13 school year, two years after a tornado tore down the former facility.
“We are home,” said principal Lee Herman to thousands toting cameras, phones and babies, anxiously gathered around the 144,350 square-feet school on a humid Sunday afternoon.
Gov. John Kasich sent a proclamation congratulating Lake on making the school happen in record time. “You got back on your feet and stood together,” he wrote.
Before giving the blessing, Lake Board of Education president Tim Krugh noted that the new high school was built without any tax dollars. The $25.5 million facility was constructed with $20.4 million in insurance, $4.8 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission and $500,000 from Kohl’s Cares.
He called the building “a gift we did not seek out, but should embrace with open arms.”
Student council members officially opened the doors and it was time to check out the “runway” leading east to the 18,736 square foot gym, 500-seat auditorium, state-of-the-art classrooms and upstairs media center.
“Phenomenal,” said Jessica Paradyse who toured the school with friend Veronica Foreman. Both graduated from Lake in 2011 and spent their senior year at the “hangar,” a nickname for the Owens Community College building.
“We just wanted to be a part of something that we were a part of before,” Paradyse said.
“Oh my gosh, it’s awesome,” said Kathy Veeley, visiting with her daughter, Meghan, a sophomore, and friend, Emily Eikost, a senior. “I just told the girls, ‘it’s your high school.’”
“The hangar was nice enough but it was so small people kept running into each other,” said Emily, who added that there was no space large enough for homecoming assemblies or pep rallies.
“But not here,” she said, gazing around the gym which seats 2,000.
In the cool auditorium, jazz music drifted from the stage where a huge screen flashed pictures of the construction process, headed by Rudolph/Libbe Inc.
“Makes you want to go back to school,” said Leslie Habegger, whose husband drives a bus for Lake and children are graduates. “It is so beautiful. My goodness, state of the art. Just beautiful.”
Tim Chadwick, a freshman from Walbridge, is looking forward to the air-conditioned classrooms. This will be his first year in the Lake School District, said his mother, Tanya.
“I had my doubts they would get it done in two years but they proved me wrong,” she said.
Dan Brossia was taking it all in from a comfortable seat in the back of the 8,512-square-foot auditorium.
“I like it so far. The seats are big enough. Most schools, you go there, the seats aren’t for adults,” said Brossia, who graduated from Lake in 1963.
“If anybody doesn’t approve of this, they got to be out of their heads,” said Warren Byington, also from the auditorium.
He likened the new school to some college facilities. Byington admitted the whole rebuilding process was bittersweet.
“It was a terrible way to get it, but this is reality,” he said. “We’re blessed to have this all, tell you that. All the struggles and all the losses.”
Ohio Rep. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, was also thinking about the seven who died in the June 5, 2010 tornado.
“The first thing that crosses my mind is nobody really wanted to do this. But out of tragedy, the Lake community made the best out of a difficult situation,” he said.
Upstairs in the media center, Ben Hotz and his mom, Debbie, were snapping pictures below of the bus fleet decked out with red, white and blue streamers and signs like “Lake Flyers together forever.”
On June 6, 2010, they were standing in the field across Ohio 795 taking photos of the devastated high school.
“It’s just as fresh as it was two years ago,” Debbie Hotz said.
Down the hall, teachers proudly showed off their new classrooms.
Katie Beard can’t wait to delve into experiments with her freshmen students, who can work in groups of four at lab stations complete with sinks and gas hookups.
“Everything is state of the art. There’s so much we’re going to be able to do,” she said. “As a teacher, it really makes me want to step up my game.”
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