A mammoth 306,800-square-foot building that will house more than 1,000 students rises out of the wetlands of the Big Darby Creek on Walker Road.

A mammoth 306,800-square-foot building that will house more than 1,000 students rises out of the wetlands of the Big Darby Creek on Walker Road.

Bradley High School was dedicated as the third high school in the Hilliard City School District on Sunday, Aug. 23.

What is normally a quiet, rural area was transformed into a parking lot as staff, students, parents, residents and dignitaries turned out to get a look at the building which was completed this summer and opened its doors to the student population on Tuesday.

"If I had to pick my single favorite feature," Principal Dave Stewart said of the new high school, "the obvious choice for me is the setting. It is a beautiful site and I never get tired of looking out our windows."

Rain gardens, wetland channels and basins can be seen from nearly every window on the eastern side of the building.

From a second floor classroom, the motion of the water flowing south through the channels toward the Big Darby are detectable in summer and winter.

Carrie Bartunek described it as an environmentally-friendly storm water management system.

Assistant Superintendent Tim Hamilton said a year ago that there are different depths and cut outs specifically for the movement of the water so it does not get stagnant as it pushes out through the property.

The woods and waterways will serve as an outdoor laboratory for students in the sciences, according to Hamilton.

The oaks, maples and shag bark hickory trees draw the Indiana bats.

"They are not very big at all," Hamilton said of the bat, holding up his thumb when he first described some of the natural aspects of locating the school at the site.

Hamilton said he cracked open the books to learn more about the protected species.

Salamanders and other wetland inhabitants will be studied, according to Hamilton.

Schools across the United States will take an interest in the Bradley project, he said, as they too search for ways to construct in conservation areas.

Bartunek said they not only kept with the "green" spirit outside the high school, but inside the building variable frequency controls were placed on all of the heating and cooling units to conserve energy.

Reduced-flow plumbing fixtures are yet another way the district is conserving water within the building.

Florescent overhead bulbs spring to life as individuals enter a room and the lighting goes dormant when the classrooms are empty.

Hilliard has been one of the trailblazers trying to make the facility as "green" as possible in the construction phases, according to Bartunek.

Gov. Ted Strickland said during the dedication ceremony that the state is projected to build 250 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified schools by the end of the current budget.

These are schools that are green and provide solid learning environments which impact our schools money by being more efficient and using fewer resources, according to Amanda Wurst who serves as Strickland's spokesperson.

"This investment of state and local dollars on school construction projects after securitizations is estimated to create 18,171 construction job opportunities and 12,052 job opportunities in the rest of the economy," said Wurst.

While complying with strict environmental regulations consumed a lot of time on the part of administrators in the school district and the construction team building the facility, Bradley is still a place where students need to be educated.

Stewart said it was an incredibly difficult decision to leave Darby High School and move to Bradley.

"I absolutely loved my time at Darby High School and was extremely happy there," he said. "In the end, though, I realized that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up, especially given the fact that I would still be staying in Hilliard and working with many of the same teachers and families that I had come to know and love."

Stewart said it was incredibly nerve wracking to be the leader of a building opening its doors for the first time this week.

His assistants Mike Starner and Mindy Mordarski, along with the rest of the staff, have been invaluable, according to Stewart.

"I have worked with Mindy for five years now and could not imagine even considering taking on a challenge like this without her," he said. "She was definitely one of a few individuals who I was permitted to specifically approach and ask to join me at Bradley. Mike is someone who I have known since I came to Hilliard, but had never had the opportunity to work with. Just from knowing him, I knew that his commitment to students, work ethic and personality would be a perfect fit."

Stewart said the staff and families have been extremely patient and understanding that things are inevitably overlooked in a process as big as the creation of a new building.

Now that the freshmen, sophomores and juniors are in the building, the real work begins.