As Buckeye Valley West students stepped off the school buses Wednesday and entered the new elementary building, their eyes widened, their smiles grew, and their excitement couldn’t be contained as teachers gave them tours of the new classrooms.
“Best Christmas present ever,” one student was overheard saying.
Christmas break begins Monday, Dec. 24, for the Buckeye Valley Local School District. When classes resume in January, Buckeye Valley West students will start classes in the new building in Bellepoint along state Route 257.
“This is amazing” or “woo and ah” were some of the other general comments that were expressed as the students walked around the building.
Buckeye Valley West Principal Barry Lyons said he has been principal of the elementary for five years, but he has been a part of the school system for 12 years.
“I was at (Buckeye Valley) North until we closed it. Then went to the middle school for two years and did fifth and sixth grade there, then came here,” he said.
Lyons said the difference from the old building in Ostrander to the new building “is like night and day.”
“It’s like oh my goodness,” he said. “The kids said it all today. They walk in and I’m hearing kids say this is like a hotel. It’s pretty cool.”
Lyons said that the kids and staff of the elementary can’t wait to get into the building at the beginning of the year.
“We’re happy to be here, but we’re sad to leave the old building,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of memories there, but that’s what life is all about.”
Lyons said students only got a glimpse of all the things in the building on Wednesday.
“They didn’t experience any of the technical knowledge in this building except for (the two display boards in the entrance), but none of the other technology they have seen yet,” he said. “We’re going from smart boards that look like dry erase boards that are cloudy to high definition TV screens where you get multiple kids touching it and functioning on it at the same time. It’s crystal clear … it’s much more crisp and clean. It’s what the kids are used to seeing at home.”
According to an old building assessment report, Superintendent Andrew Miller said the Ostrander building opened in 1937.
However, according to a July 1, 1975 edition of The Delaware Gazette, the first building originally opened on the site in 1884, but as the area grew, the original building was razed, a new building was built, and in time the building received several renovations.
The property, once the school district vacates the old building, will be donated to the Village of Ostrander. In 2016 after vacating Buckeye Valley North, the district demolished the old building and donated the property to the Village of Radnor.
While students toured the building, Evan Ulrich, a junior at Buckeye Valley High School, video recorded the event for one of his school projects.
“It’s different. I grew up going to the old building,” he said. “When I went there to take the videos for this project, I walked through the old school and I just had a bunch of memories flood in of the old school.”
Ulrich said he thought the new building was needed because of the extreme age of the old building.
Lori Herriott, a 26-year teaching veteran with the district, said she has been at every elementary building in the district.
“This is amazing,” she said about the new building. “Room to move and there are just so many opportunities for the kids. A whole lot of flexibility to use their imaginations for sure.”
Tami Grandominico, a 15-year teaching veteran with the district who has taught in several of the district’s buildings, thought the new school was “great.”
“I think the kids are going to be excited,” she said. “It’s something fresh with new technologies, smart boards, a nice new dining area and gym. They’re going to be so excited to see all the new stuff. I can’t wait to see their faces when they walk in.”
Buckeye Valley Local Schools asked voters in November 2015 to pass a $31.25 million bond issue for the construction of two new elementary buildings. After a recount of the votes, the bond issue barely passed by two votes.
In past reports, the projected cost for BV East is $11.6 million, which is designed to serve 475 students with a part of the old building, that has now been demolished, being incorporated into the new building.
The projected cost for Buckeye Valley West has been placed at $13.6 million and is designed to serve 625 students. The district purchased 39 acres of land along state Route 257 just north of Bellepoint in Concord Township for $535,000 in the spring of 2016 for the new building’s site.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.