In addition to the Big Red Band, the new $20 million high school could be added to what’s known as the pride of Johnstown.
Johnstown-Monroe High School, 445 S. Main St., will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13.
Students will begin classes in the 84,000-square-foot building Tuesday, Jan. 16.
“It has been a labor of love,” said Dale Dickson, J-M superintendent. “We’ve been blessed with a great team, board and community.”
The project team included Robertson Construction and BSHM Architects Inc.
The cost was about $20.5 million, with $14.4 million of local funds and $5.9 million of state funds contributed by project partner Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
Dickson said the greatest joy for him will be in watching the students enter the new school.
“I love these kids,” he said.
High school principal Derick Busenburg said his participation in the building project has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences in his career.
“Seeing all of the hard work of the school board, administrative team, staff members, architects, contractors and various community members come together after many months of planning and preparation is amazing,” he said. “But even more amazing is the fact that throughout the entire process, the needs of our students and this community have been paramount to all other considerations.”
When the community has an opportunity to see the new building for the first time at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Busenburg said, he thinks they’ll see a building they can be proud of for many years to come.
“I cannot stress enough how grateful we are to the Johnstown community supporting our schools and providing us with this exciting opportunity,” he said. “We know that it will take some time for us to finally get settled into our new building, but we are eager and excited to make the transition.”
Entering the main commons of the building, you’re greeted with an open-concept ceiling cloud design and what Dickson likens to Star Trek.
Located off the commons is the gymnasium with a seating capacity of 1,200.
“A lot of attention went into the design to get the old colors of red and gray that’s everything to us Johnnies,” Dickson said. “We’re very pleased with the floor, in particular, because the maple wood was donated by the Almendinger family here in the community who has been in the wood business for decades.”
Daniel Almendinger arranged for the donation of the wood for the gym flooring.
“It makes it very special to have a local company putting your floor in that will be here for many decades ahead,” Dickson said.
Also off the commons is a concession area for before and after school as well as ball games, the lunchroom and kitchen.
J-M food-service supervisor Max Cartwright is former chef at Ohio State University Medical Center.
“He’s putting out creative food for our children,” Dickson said. “I look for a Johnnie Cafe after school. He’s getting very innovative.”
The state-of-the-art kitchen will be used to cook meals not only for the high school but also those that will be transported to the middle school, which will be in the old high school once renovations are completed this summer, Dickson said.
The main floor of the new building also features an administrative area, a two-bed clinic with a separate restroom, a teacher prep room, a media center, a STEM lab and instrumental- and vocal-music rooms.
The three-floor academic area includes an online learning center with 38 tables and computers, science labs, an art room with attached area that has an electric kiln and a special-education area.
“Every area has Wi-Fi with smart projection as opposed to Smart Boards,” Dickson said. “The science rooms will have an ice machine or dish washer and refrigerator to keep specimens.”
There’s also a family- and consumer-science room with four oven stations.
Dickson said the entire school is his favorite.
Many of the rooms provide a view of the football field or wooded areas enveloping the building.
“I’m proud of the results of the design,” Dickson said.
He said he’s especially fond of the mechanical room housing the infrastructure of the building.
“It’s an efficient system,” he said. “It will save money for decades. We created a practical, efficient facility with some design flair.”
Work on the old high school will commence in February or March, with the middle school students and staff scheduled to move in August.
Repaving of the parking lot in front of Searfoss Elementary School and the old high school also is planned.
Work will be finished at the performing-arts center in time for the spring musical.
“It will be more welcoming with new curtains, new flooring,” Dickson said. “It will be nice.”
Searfoss also is slated to receive a new roof. “It’s a good, solid building,” Dickson said. “It will be ready in case we have to move some elementary kids.”
He said the new elementary school in Leafy Dell was built for 750 students, and 760 already are enrolled.
“We have space we can grow,” Dickson said. “There will be a time when we will have to bring a grade here (by the old high school).”
The school board has approved demolishing Adams and Oregon to provide a 15-acre space.
“I think it would be good for an intermediate building,” Dickson said. “As housing grows, it will dictate the need for more schools.”
Voters approved an 8-mill tax issue, with 7.5 mills for bonds to renovate and improve school facilities and 0.5 mill for permanent improvements, in May 2014.