Olentangy Berlin High School opened last year, becoming the district's fourth high school -- but there's still something new in double-blue for the 2019-20 school year.

CORRECTION:  Berlin High School junior Austin Corley's name was misspelled in the print and earlier online versions of this story.

Olentangy Berlin High School opened last year, becoming the district's fourth high school -- but there's still something new in double-blue for the 2019-20 school year.


Of course, the first senior class at Berlin is not new to the school. The district didn't move a class of 2019 into Berlin last year, allowing students who would have moved to graduate from the school they had attended for three years.

Berlin opened last year with freshmen, sophomores and juniors -- and that junior class will become the first to graduate from Berlin next spring.

"They've had one year of practice being upperclassmen, being leaders," principal Todd Spinner said. "I'm proud of those kids. They were moved from their high school and told 'Now you're the leaders of this building.' "

"As juniors, we were the oldest, and we got some senior perks, but being the first class of seniors, it's kind of overwhelming -- but it feels great," senior Haley Cera said.

Seniors received special T-shirts and will have some other benefits as well, including a senior-only lunch line. But Spinner said those perks come with added expectations of the class.

"They were the upperclassmen last year, but this year we're telling them even more that they've got to lead," he said.

"Being the first senior class ever is important, so yeah, we're thinking about the generations that are going to be coming through here and the paw print that we're leaving," Cera said, alluding to the school's Bears mascot.

Berlin media specialist Robyn Starcher said this year's seniors already have proven their leadership skills.

"Our senior Bears were outstanding leaders as juniors last year," she said. "I have no doubt they will continue to lead Berlin with even more positive energy due to the added excitement of being the first class to graduate.

"They truly care about the school and the legacy they are creating."

Spinner said his staff is more than ready for some new and different tasks that having a senior class will necessitate, including working with students on college and scholarship applications, hosting even more colleges and, of course, graduation.

"We're already thinking about graduation. We have to," Spinner said. "We owe it to these kids and this community to get it right."

Spinner said the school has added upwards of 20 new staff members, many to teach senior-level classes that were not part of last year's curriculum.

He said the start of school is not that different from last year, apart from the historical nature of being brand new in 2018.

"We have both students and teachers who've been at almost every other building in the district. Last year, we had to work to make sure they were tied together to create a sense of family," Spinner said. "We're doing a lot of those same things this year."

Of course, it isn't the senior class that's new to the building, but rather the new class of freshmen, which Spinner said numbers more than 400. The total student population at Berlin this year tops 1,300, he said.

Spinner said the school's staff and student leadership opted to start the year with two days of community building -- a carryover from last year that worked well, he said.

"We're still building that solid foundation, so we wanted to spend the first two days just focused on culture and climate," Spinner said, adding every building in the district adopted the model for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

"Mr. Spinner's always talking about school pride," junior Austin Corley said. "Last year, maybe we didn't know what to expect, but this year, I think I realize how important it is to do and say things that have a positive impact on people and show the kinds of things you want them to do and say."

"We've all been just champing at the bit to get the school year underway," Spinner said. "It's a special place."