Closer look at BWLS’ facilities


SUNBURY — Now that the district is on winter break until Jan. 4, it seems like a good time to take an armchair tour of the Big Walnut Local Schools buildings.

In the 2020-21 school year, students were given the option of in-person and remote learning (Virtual Learning Program) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As readers and residents know, Prairie Run Elementary School opened its doors to students in August. The 60,000-square-foot building is at 701 N. Miller Drive.

Next door to Prairie Run is the new Big Walnut High School, which is said to be one of the largest in the state when it opens. The 325,000-square-foot structure can be seen from state Route 61. The construction timeline is to have it enclosed for the winter, with an anticipated opening date of August 2022.

The administrative offices for the district are off Miller Drive at 110 Tippett Court. Just down the road at 301 S. Miller Drive is General Rosecrans Elementary. In her principal’s message, Kate Thoma said they are hard at work to fulfill the district’s mission, “preparing to inspire and guide our students to their maximum potential by personalizing instruction, engaging learners, and growing minds.”

The current BWHS is at 555 S. Old 3C Road. The high school held its Evening of Excellence Academic Awards event this fall, which can be seen on YouTube.

Big Walnut Intermediate School is at 105 Baughman St., next to the present high school. Principal Sarah Sandrock said they “teach and celebrate positive social and academic behavior through our RISE program,” which stands for Responsibility, Integrity, Safety and Empathy.

Nearby is Big Walnut Elementary at 940 S. Old 3C Road. BWE Principal Annie Clark said their teachers are helping activate “21st century learning skills of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking” for its students.

Big Walnut Middle School is at 777 Cheshire Road. In its most recent parent update, the BWMS community was told how the school honored veterans and an opportunity to purchase custom Christmas ornaments.

The Early Learning Center at Harrison Street is in the older part of the village at 70 Harrison St. It used to be an elementary school, but is now the preschool for the district.

Hylen Souders Elementary is at 4121 Miller-Paul Road in Galena. In its most recent newsletter, Principal Matt Cox wrote the report cards will have many Ps. The P “indicates your child is progressing toward mastering end-of-year grade level standards. Since the report cards are based on end-of-the-year standards, we do not expect students have mastered those standards at this point.”

An article that appeared in the former Sunbury News in 2015 talked a bit about the district’s history.

“In 1873, Sunbury’s one-room schoolhouses moved into a single building on Harrison Street,” the article reads. “The first school serving Galena was built on Walnut Street 140 years ago … About 77 years later, the Delaware County Board of Education combined the Sunbury and Galena school districts to make Big Walnut Local Schools. The name referenced the Big Walnut Creek that connects Sunbury and Galena. Now, the district serves students from more than 108 square miles.

“The buildings that served the early days of Big Walnut Local Schools have remained a part of the district in one form or another throughout time: Galena’s Walnut Street building was used for administrative offices until early 2014. Additions to the Sunbury’s Harrison Street were built in 1913 and 1924 … The growth has not stopped. General Rosecrans Elementary was opened in 2010 and Big Walnut Middle School opened in 2011 to serve up to 700 students. In 2012, the district opened an intermediate school for fifth and sixth grade students in the Baughman Street building.”

Today, the district is hiring bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and office staff. For more information, visit Budzak | The Gazette

By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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