Progress continues at new Ironton High School

Published 9:43 am Thursday, December 17, 2009

Progress on the new Ironton High School is coming along. Construction crews are on target to meet their goal of having the school ready to open by the fall of 2010.

Construction began in early July after most of the building was torn down. The new school is being built around the entryway of the old school, which was saved from demolition.

“We saved the most ornate parts of the building,” Dean Nance, superintendent of Ironton City Schools, said, adding that the district wanted to keep the history of the building but add the amenities of a new facility.

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An old library that was attached to the entry wall has also been salvaged and will be used for a meeting room on the third floor of the structure.

In the cafeteria is a stone arch from the original structure that was on the Heplar Street side of the school. The windows on the arch will be replaced with mirrors.

Nearby stands a bronze tiger crouching on a step taken from the old school. In another corner of the cafeteria sits an oak ticket booth from the original school.

The cafeteria seating can be cleared to provide a lobby area for any events held in the auditorium.

When the old school was built it was one of the most prominent schools in the area.

“Ironton has a long history of having excellent academics, excellent athletics,” Nance said. At the time, two steel mills and a leather factory meant that there was always money for schools.

Fast forward 80 years and the building had many downfalls. With only one electrical outlet in each classroom, the old school was not capable of supporting much of the technology used these days.

“It was just time to provide the same educational opportunities to our kids as all the other schools in the surrounding area,” he said.

Each floor of the 93,000 square feet new school has been painted with a different accent color. A committee, with the help of a color psychologist, picked maroon, burnt orange and sage green. The colors are designed to inspire energy and alertness in the students. Maroon also holds another significance for Ironton.

It was the color of the Ironton Tanks, a former semi-professional football team.

In the auditorium, which has the capacity of 600, seats have been ordered and should arrive around the first of the year. Three chandeliers from the original school will grace the $3.2 million auditorium.

The auditorium’s stage features painted oak flooring and an orchestra pit.

A spiral staircase is completed that will allow access to a catwalk with spotlights and cables.

In the area, only the Paramount Arts Center is bigger than the school’s auditorium. Nance hopes to see the auditorium used for concerts, as well as school events.

“We intend on renting out this auditorium,” Nance said, adding that it can be used for town hall meetings and other community events. “This is a large enough auditorium to house concerts.”

The auditorium area of the school also features two dressing rooms complete with mirrors, counter tops and sinks.

Nearby, the band area of the school features a large room, two storage areas for uniforms and instruments as well as a percussion room and an office for the band director.

The school’s gymnasium will feature a weight room with windows. The gym will be used for physical education classes and will house some of the schools athletics.

The majority of the athletics will still be played at the Conley Center.

The gymnasium walls will be adorned with the picture of a tiger with “Home of the fighting Tigers,” written nearby.

Vinyl electric bleachers will allow for the seating of more than 600 people.

The school’s four science labs will have seven sink stations each. All of the water from the drains in the classrooms will go through a carbon filtration system before going to the regular water system.

“That’s thinking green,” Nance said. “We don’t want to pollute the earth. (The filtration system) is required for chemistry labs but we wanted to go as far as we could.”

Nance said the process of building the new school has been long but worth it.

“It feels great,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true. I feel like I’ve had pretty high expectations but I feel like it has exceeded my expectations.”