More than 16,500 students will return to classrooms in 23 Hilliard City Schools buildings Wednesday, Aug. 22.

"The start of each school year is marked with excitement, hope and opportunity," said Superintendent John Marschhausen, who is beginning his sixth year with the district.

Some of that excitement was exhibited Aug. 13 when Marschhausen, other administrators and several hundred people gathered to dedicate the new Hilliard Memorial Middle School at 2900 Walker Road.

The $38 million, 140,000-square-foot school, adjacent to Bradley High School at 2800 Walker Road, opened to staff members Aug. 1 and was unveiled publicly Aug. 13.

Memorial principal Barry Bay said he arrived at the school the morning of Aug. 1 to find teachers "tailgating" in the parking lot, eager to begin preparing classrooms for students.

Among the students who will attend the new school is seventh-grader Taylor Henoch, who came to the Aug. 13 event with her parents, Alex and Tracy Henoch.

"It's so much bigger (than the former Memorial Middle School)," she said.

"We're blown away, it's really nice," Tracy Henoch said.

Alex Henoch marveled at the LED televisions in each classroom and said having his children attend schools adjacent to each other – his son, Quinn, is a sophomore at Bradley – is convenient.

Rob Hillis, whose daughter, Rylee, will be a seventh-grader at Memorial, said the "state-of-the-art school is impressive."

The former Memorial is at 5600 Scioto Darby Road; it was the district's high school before Davidson High School opened in 1990.

It will open next week as Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School.

The former Station at 3859 Main St. will become the Hub, which is part of the district's Innovation Campus that also includes the Annex building and the McVey Innovative Learning Center.

Bay, who was principal for seven years at the former site, said he was "honored" to help open the new school.

Marschhausen said opening of the new school and repurposing other buildings allow the district to expand educational opportunities for students.

"Hilliard City Schools continues to embrace our core belief in educating the whole child," he said.