We have an exciting year ahead for Upper Arlington Schools as we prepare to break ground on the new or renovated schools in the first phase of the community-developed master plan.
In January, hundreds of community members joined us for the final community meetings of the design phase. These meetings were the culmination of a journey that began back in September 2015 -- when the board of education launched a community-driven facilities master planning process.
I'd like to thank the thousands of community members who have come alongside us to plan for the future of education in Upper Arlington. This is truly an extraordinary community because of the dedication of our residents.
At the meetings in January, we shared the final designs for the new Upper Arlington High School and the five new or renovated elementary schools. All of the renderings, as well as a tentative timeline for construction, are available on our website, uaschools.org/facilities. All six projects remain on time and on budget, and all will be going out to bid in the coming weeks in preparation for the first groundbreakings this spring.
We hope you'll join us for the groundbreaking ceremonies for the first five projects:
* Sunday, April 7: Upper Arlington High School
* Sunday, May 19: Barrington, Greensview, Tremont and Wickliffe elementary schools
A groundbreaking ceremony for Windermere Elementary School will follow a year later when construction begins on that site.
Please watch your mailbox for more details about these exciting events.
On another subject, I'd like to bring your attention to a new and growing danger for students in Upper Arlington and across the country: vaping.
In December, the U.S. surgeon general, Jerome Adams, declared vaping an epidemic among youth in the United States. As a community, Upper Arlington has seen the rate of students vaping rise each year, reaching even our middle school and elementary students.
We are taking on vaping in multiple ways. Upper Arlington Schools is partnering with the Upper Arlington Police Division, the Stand Project, Syntero, local businesses, OhioHealth, parents and students to educate the community about the risks of vaping and to spark this critical conversation.
In collaboration with the Stand Project, we have released a six-part video series to educate parents about vaping. Altogether the videos total less than eight minutes.
I encourage you to visit http://tinyurl.com/y6hcsvt6 and watch the videos listed below:
* Basics of an Electronic Cigarette with Officer Jon Rice of the Upper Arlington Division of Police.
* The Medical Risks with Dr. John Leff of Riverside Methodist Hospital.
* Teen Brain Development with Principal Jason Fine of Jones Middle School.
* Talk With Your Kids with Principal Robb Gonda of Hastings Middle School.
* UA School Policies with Principal Andrew Theado of Upper Arlington High School.
* What Parents Can Do with Deb Culp, counselor at Syntero.
In addition, last month Upper Arlington High School and Wellington students from the Stand Project Student Group shared the facts and risks of vaping with students in grades six through eight at Jones and Hastings middle schools.
Go online toTheStandProjectUA.org/vaping to watch the videos, learn more and download a tip sheet to start this critical conversation in our community. When we know better, we do better.
Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.