The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District broke ground last week for its newest building, Clark Hall, to be built at the northwest corner of Hamilton Road and Granville Street.

The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District broke ground last week for its newest building, Clark Hall, to be built at the northwest corner of Hamilton Road and Granville Street.

Students have been involved in many aspects of the project thus far and will continue to be involved through the construction phase, school officials say.

"It's student focused," Superintendent Gregg Morris said. "Any way we can, we engage the students in this process."

Students were involved in the planning and helped choose Clark Hall as the new building's name.

Clark Hall will be a school-owned building with 50,000 square feet of educational space on the second and third floors and retail space on the first floor. The district owns the 6.8 acres where the building will sit and is in the process of seeking requests for proposals from developers to lease the first floor of Clark Hall and build two other retail and office buildings on the land to help support the school district with tax revenues.

"We're trying to maximize our funding and minimize the burden on our taxpayers," Morris said.

He said the district is aiming for 50 percent of the cost of the project to be funded through its lease of the first floor of Clark Hall and increased property-tax revenues from the two new buildings.

Students attended the groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 19 and learned about the work already done on the project. Moving forward, students in the Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical School's architecture and construction management (ACM) class at Gahanna Lincoln High School will meet with the project architect and construction managers to follow the design-to-construction process.

On Nov. 20, the 30 students in the class went to the site and helped with part of the demolition. The existing building must be removed from the site before construction could begin.

Class instructor Jeff Gilger said the students could not operate equipment, but they wore hard hats and participated in as many activities as they could.

"For the next two to three years, this will be a living classroom project for our program," Gilger said.

The students will work with project architects from Gahanna-based Bird Houk Collaborative and the construction management company, Pennsylvania-based Quandel Group, to learn how a project goes from design to construction. The process, he said, includes conceptual design, design development, contractual drawings and a lot of other steps along the way, including plan review by government entities.

He said the students would learn valuable information from participating in the project, such as how to put architectural and construction documents together and how to present a project or an idea during an official meeting.

"The seniors graduating this year will miss the bulk of that," he said. "A lot of the really good stuff is going to happen next (school) year."

The school's ACM program has 17 seniors and 12 juniors from Gahanna Lincoln, Teays Valley, Reynoldsburg, Whitehall and Pickerington.

Morris said district officials enjoy seeing the class working with the construction company and learning from the project.

"They get to see the process, see it happen from preparation until they are ready to build the building," Gilger said.

Clark Hall is only one of the Gahanna-Jefferson school buildings named by a group of students. Students also have recommended changing the names of three of the existing buildings on the high school campus.

School buildings to get real names

Changes were proposed by students in the high school's honors global-studies class, advanced composition class, DECA and student council, along with the high school's Renaissance team coordinators and facility steering committee.

The Gahanna-Jefferson school board approved the name changes Nov. 12.

Superintendent Gregg Morris said the district has several buildings on the high school campus, and the district tries to prevent the staff, faculty and students in different buildings from feeling as though they are segregated.

Renaming the buildings, which had been referred to with letters, will help keep the continuity of the high school campus, Morris said.

The building closest to the administration building on Hamilton Road, known as building A, will be called Hamilton Hall. The oldest part of the high school at the corner of Hamilton and Havens Corner roads, building B, will be called Lincoln Hall. The third and newest building closest to the football stadium will be called Jefferson Hall.