Several hundred people toured the new McCormick Middle School Sunday following a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Terry Mazzone, a resident who supported bond efforts to build the new school. “It’s an educational environment that Wellington students deserve.”
His daughter, Jill, 29, nodded and said, “It’s really nice. And I’m a little bit jealous!”
Others are happy they are attending the school. Audrey Biltz, a seventh-grader, said, “I love it. It’s way easier to get around. Classrooms are right next to each other. Everything I need is here on the same floor except for band.”
“Isn’t that something — all these rooms and no chalkboards. I am really over the hill,” said Carmel Grissinger, who graduated from Wellington, as did her five children and two grandchildren. She got a quick lesson on a Smart Board. “This is the most fabulous thing. I love it and it was needed so badly for our students, our staff, and our town. It’s bright, cheery, and the equipment looks great and everyone is so enthused. We needed this shot in the arm.”
Fourth-grader Jillian Stannard is pumped after spending the first week at the new building, which opened for classes Dec. 8. “It’s awesome and really cool,” she said, walking parents Tom and Carrie and sister, Katie, through the building.
“It’s amazing,” Tom Stannard said. “To see pictures of it, the planning and the building, and see it all come to fruition is just tremendous.”
Stannard headed up the Citizens for Wellington Schools, which supported a bond issue to finance construction.
“It was overdue,” he said. “You can see how bright and clean and new it is and feel the level of excitement in the kids and the staff… We just used the old building way beyond when we should have gotten rid of it.”
He and others are predicting student performance and test scores will increase as a side-effect of the new learning environment.
“What’s it like not having to worry about drinking the water?” he asked Craig Housum, McCormick Middle School principal. Housum and others said they were often worried about what came out of the fountains in the old school. “You didn’t know what you were getting,” Housum joked.
“It’s everything I wanted it to be,” said Carrie Stannard, outside at the playground. “It’s just been a long time coming. It’s a great place for my kids to go to school.”
Sixth-grader Summer Haynes declared the building “better organized than the old one — and it’s got a lot less floors to go up and down.”
Her best assessment: “It has more maroon than the old one,” giving a nod to the Wellington Dukes colors throughout the building and on the floors.
The dedication ceremony included a color guard and the Wellington band. Many people were formally acknowledged including the architects, the construction team, and school maintenance personnel.
“The long-awaited day has finally arrived,” superintendent Dennis Mock said. “We prayed it was on time. The underpass and us were neck and neck. We prayed that it was under budget. We are, and we hope that it will be, the jewel in the eye of the community.”
“No one can build a school alone and we certainly built this together,” he said, thanking all involved.
School board member Ayers Ratliff said the dedication is a chance to “witness once again the generosity of our Wellington community.”
Residents passed a bond issue, paying for 63 percent of the $19.7 million building, which included $3.1 million in donations for the new auditorium. It opens for a performance this Friday.
Before the ribbon cutting, school board member Jacquie Dovin said it had been 1, 132 days since passing the levy and urged all in attendance to remember their commitment to the project.
“I love it,” said Sally Stewart, school board member. “It’s bright and a good place for education. I wish I’d been there Tuesday when the kids walked in so I could hear their ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs.’ They are probably still sighing.”
Down the hall, Katie Stannard stopped as she entered the eighth grade science lab. “Whoa! Can I be in here?” she asked. “I like it because you get to use science and make experiments and it’s big and new and exciting.”
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.
Photos by Catherine Gabe | Wellington Enterprise
Welcome to the new McCormick Middle School! This was one of three official ribbon cuttings — one for school board officials, one for construction staff, and this one for all school staff.
Jillian Stannard gives her new locker a spin. The fourth-grader likes having a safe space for her belongings.
Students and community members got to play around with the Smart Boards during the McCormick Middle School tours. No one seemed to have trouble locating Ohio.