Claws up -- you're in Bear Country now.

Olentangy Berlin High School, the district's fourth high school, officially opens its doors Aug. 5.

Everything from food trucks and photo booths to a parade and performances from the school's band and choir are slated for the ceremony, which starts at 12:30 p.m. at the school, 3140 Berlin Station Road in Delaware.

The festivities will begin with a parade around the grounds, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. The building will be open for tours until 4:30 p.m.

Blue tennis courts -- reflecting the school colors -- and three 8-foot-tall bear statues placed throughout the school will welcome students. The stairwells, windows and locker bays will be decked out with clings declaring "Claws Up" -- one of the school's mottoes.

If it all seems over the top, that's on purpose.

"The kids deserve something that feels lived-in and authentic. I didn't want them walking into a sterile high school," said Principal Todd Spinner. "When they walk into that building on Aug. 5, they are going to know that it's Berlin High School. Twenty years from now, I want those grads to think of what an awesome high school experience they had."

The $69 million campus will draw most of its students from an area previously served by Olentangy High School, 675 Lewis Center Road. Officials redistricted in 2017.

The school will open for classes Aug. 15 with grades 9-11.

The school takes its name from Berlin Township School, which opened in 1915 and closed in 1973. The former school was one of several scattered throughout the county that were consolidated to form the Olentangy Local School District.

The Berlin fight song and alma mater will be unveiled Aug. 5, Spinner said.

"The fight song will be brand new. It'll be ours," Spinner said. "The alma mater will be an homage to the original school and will have some of the same lyrics, but also incorporate some of the taglines that we have established here."

The event marks the first assignment for the yearbook and magazine staff.

Most of its small established staff -- "four solid commits" for each -- are coming from Olentangy High School, where they participated in school media. The rest is up to the Berlin community, said Erin Bush, a German and journalism teacher who will advise student media.

"We're trying to do as much as we can with all the unknowns," she said. "We don't even have names for our publications; we're taking it really seriously that we're setting traditions for generations to come.

"I think it's important to make sure we're slowing down and focusing and doing things the right way," Bush said. "We really want to focus on quality over quantity. The other schools produce seven magazines, but we decided we're going to do five this year and make everything perfect."

Student media, much like nearly everything at Berlin, is wide open for anyone who wants to get involved. Bush will teach two Intro to Journalism classes; they're typically required before students can get involved, but not this year.

The school's yearbook company, Herff Jones, offers an eShare app to crowdsource photos.

"Any pictures they take, they can put right into our yearbook app with the understanding that it may be published, and we'll be able to use those for both our yearbook and our news magazine," Bush said. "I hope it makes people feel engaged and connected. We're hoping to really involve the community and sell subscriptions.

"This year we won't have senior pictures, we won't have senior ads, so we've decided were going to use that space to cover some of the history of the area and the community."

After a year spent largely away from students, Spinner said he is most excited to get back to education.

"I'm grateful for the support and love of my wife," he said. "Without her understanding and support, I couldn't do this. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Superintendent (Mark) Raiff and the leadership team and the board of education. The support from the leadership team, the board and the administrative team is just unbelievable

"This is an opportunity to see what our future -- our students -- are going to be able to accomplish, what our kids are going to get to witness and live in for three or four years. Our kids are going to get to experience things that kids in other high schools and other districts will only read about."

For more information on Berlin High School's grand opening, visit tinyurl.com/berlinopening.

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