SUNBURY — An open house for the new Big Walnut High School will take place this afternoon on the site at 713 N. Miller Drive.
“The new building is 302,310 sq. ft. which is a nearly 65% increase in size from the current building and includes highlights such as a new theater with catwalks, orchestra pit, green rooms and scene shop,” said the holiday edition of the Berkshire Township newsletter. “There is a new academic common area which affords both small group student gatherings and large group learning opportunities in an open concept three-story space and a competition gym with running track just to name a few amazing features.”
Things start at 4 p.m. with an optional tour of the outside athletic facilities such as the new football stadium. There will then be a dedication ceremony for the new high school in the gym at 5 p.m. Afterwards, the new high school, the outdoor athletic facilities under the stadium lights, and next-door Prairie Run Elementary School, will all be open to the public to tour until 7 p.m. PRE, as it is known in the district, is at 701 N. Miller Drive and opened in August of 2020.
Next month, the new high school will be open for instruction. The work crews currently on site will be replaced by the vital custodial and maintenance departments.
Before then, the 1,851 students at the current BWHS, 555 S. Old 3C Road, will be on winter break starting Dec. 22. With the start of a new year marks a new building to get used to for students, teachers and staff alike. On a recent frosty morning visit to the still-active construction site, high school staff were seen visiting their new offices.
“The new Big Walnut HS is still on track to open as follows: Jan. 3, 2022: First official day for teachers in the school (Teacher work day); Jan. 4, 2022: Students return — first day of school in the new building; We plan to conduct our move just prior to and during winter break, Dec. 2021,” said Director of Facilities Doug Swartz in an email to The Gazette.
“Four Decembers ago, we had just passed the bond issue to build the new high school and elementary school. So much has happened since then!” wrote Big Walnut Local Schools Superintendent Angie Hamberg in the district’s current newsletter. “It has been a long and rewarding journey over the last four years to get these two buildings open for our students, but the time is finally open our new high school.”
Hamberg also answered the question of why the high school students are moving while the 2021-2022 school year is still in progress.
“By moving them mid-year, not only do we gain the benefit of using our facility sooner, but we will be able to complete much-needed work at the current high school,” Hamberg said.
After capital improvements are made at the current high school, it will serve as a new middle school.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.