If you have driven along Zollinger Road in the past couple of weeks, you probably have seen the initial signs of construction for the first phase of the community-developed master plan.

Fencing is up and work is underway in preparation for the new Upper Arlington High School.

Over the next several weeks, you'll also see fencing and equipment appearing at Barrington, Greensview, Tremont and Wickliffe Progressive elementary schools in preparation for construction there. Work on the new Windermere Elementary School will begin next spring.

As we begin "Building Our Future" for the Upper Arlington students of today and generations to come, we hope you will join us for the community groundbreaking ceremonies that will celebrate this historic moment for our schools and community.

All are welcome to join us for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Upper Arlington High School on Sunday, April 7, at 4 p.m. We'll gather inside the construction fencing along Brandon Road between Ridgeview and Zollinger roads, north of where the current high school stands.

The event will be a true Golden Bear celebration. There will be performances from our talented high school musicians and singers, and student ambassadors from all of our schools will lead us in the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Please watch your mailbox later this month for an invitation to the four elementary groundbreaking ceremonies planned for the afternoon of Sunday, May 19.

As the master-plan construction phase gets underway, we recognize that not only is this an opportunity to begin "Building Our Future" but it also is the time to take a deeper look at our past.

Many residents might be surprised to learn that there was once a cemetery on the high school site.

That cemetery site is beneath the school and parking lot, but it once was the final resting place for the family and friends of Pleasant Litchford, a freed slave and master blacksmith who made amazing contributions to the growth and development of Upper Arlington and Columbus in the 1800s.

Once the new high school is complete in 2021, we will prepare to demolish the existing building. This will provide the perfect opportunity for us to partner with historians and archaeologists to further examine the site.

We will work to identify if any graves still remain -- about 30 bodies were moved to other cemeteries in the 1950s -- and if any artifacts from this important time in our history can be found.

It will be a tremendous learning opportunity for our entire community, and it will offer us an opportunity to create a memorial recognizing the importance of the site and the contributions made by Mr. Litchford and his contemporaries.

Finally, as construction begins on five sites around Upper Arlington, I want residents to know that we are committed to being good neighbors. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to facilities@uaschools.org.

You can continue to look updates through this column, the UAiNSIGHT community newsletter, uaschools.org and our UA Schools social-media accounts.

We appreciate your support and patience as we implement the first phase of the facilities master plan and build schools that reflect our community's long commitment to being at the forefront of education.

Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.