Demolition of Upper Arlington High School evokes past memories, future hopes

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
Upper Arlington High School art teacher Missy Haines films the beginning of demolition of the old high school June 8.

On a muggy June 8, with temperatures already pushing 80 degrees by 9:30 a.m., about 10 onlookers and those passing by saw the start of the demolition of Upper Arlington High School at 1650 Ridgeview Way.

The building, which opened in 1956, will be replaced by a 395,000-square-foot high school at 1625 Zollinger Road, on the footprint of the existing campus. It’s scheduled to open for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

The new building will have more than 100,000 square feet of additional learning space. District officials say the new school will accommodate a growing student population and provide state-of-the-art facilities that will enhance everything from laboratory areas to collaborative learning.

It also will replace a school where minds and memories were nurtured for 64 graduating classes.

A crew from Scioto Darby Concrete Inc. begin demolition of the old Upper Arlington High School on June 8 by tearing down the freshman gymnasium.

"I usually walk around the block every day just to see the progress over there (on the new high school)," said Mike Bradley, a 1967 UAHS graduate who still lives in Upper Arlington. "I didn't know they were doing this today until I got over here.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the new one, but having gone here so long ago and I just live a couple blocks away, I come by here all the time."

As he watched a crew from Scioto Darby Concrete Inc. tear into the freshman gymnasium at the old high school, Bradley said he felt nostalgic, especially about Friday nights as a student.

"Just all of it," he said. "Football games and those sorts of things."

Among others on hand were two UAHS art teachers.

Missy Haines, who has taught for 17 years and made the community her home, stood outside the demolition barrier filming the final moments of a building she's worked in her entire career.

"I need closure," Haines said. "I'm excited about the new, but I'm sad to see this go."

Nearby, Alicia McGinty, a visual-arts teacher for 27 years, snapped photos and reflected on everything from her former students to permanent art installations at the old building.

She said she taught in all five art rooms at the school and remembered a number of times her department had to tweak or move classrooms to accommodate enrollment growth and school projects.

"I was thankful that the community gave us funding and was super excited about the new building, but I had no idea how emotional it would be to see this go down," McGinty said. "It's been tough just thinking of all the kids that have gone through and the memories.

"I did my student teaching here from Ohio State, and I realized what a great school it was and I stayed – I refused to leave. I'll be glad to start a whole new chapter in a beautiful new building."

Backed by a 5.17-mill bond approved in November 2017, the district broke ground in April 2019 for $235 million in projects to rebuild and renovate the high school and five elementary buildings.

Karen Truett, communications director for UA Schools, said demolition is expected to take months.

Superintendent Paul Imhoff said it is "really hard" to see the old high school start to come down, given its influence on the community and the history of its students and staff.

But he saw the demolition as a cause to celebrate the future.

"The new high school is designed to support academic achievement in every way," Imhoff said. "The classroom spaces, the labs, the studios and the commons areas all connect to support the type of collaborative, project-based work that is so key to success in today's world.

"We're also excited about the abundance of natural light and outdoor learning areas to provide great environments for our students and help inspire creativity."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate