A New Era

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 15, 2010

Superintendent Dean Nance was justifiably excited as he walked into the brand-new home of Ironton High School Thursday.

With just days left before class starts for the year, the final touches were being put in place for students’ arrival.

“We got our occupational permit yesterday so we are officially allowed in,” Nance said.

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The start of school Wednesday will be the conclusion of a journey that began when city residents voted to pass a levy for the new school buildings.

“It’s been a very long time coming,” Nance said. “It’s like we’re in the fourth quarter of the big game. All the prep work up to this point has just come together. The planning, the teacher involvement, the process of preparing for this day.”

The new school is constructed around the entry wall of the old structure, the rest of which was demolished to make way for the new structure.

While keeping some of the charm from the former building, the school will also have several updates and modern amenities.

Nance called the building one of the nicest and best designed schools in the area.

Randy Henderson, the project manager for the building project, agreed.

“It’s a great project,” Henderson said. “It’s as good as any I’ve been involved with in 30 years.”

Motion detectors control lights in all the rooms.

Each classroom is equipped with SMART boards, as well as microphones and speakers.

Handicap accessibility has been improved in the new structure as well.

“Anywhere that a student needs to have access to there is handicap access,” Nance said.

The library from the old school was also salvaged and is now the new school’s reading room. During renovation, a fireplace was uncovered.

“It was covered with paneling and when we took the paneling off we found the fireplace,” Nance said. “We thought it was pretty unique.”

The room, which has three skylights, will be used not only as a reading room but also as a community meeting room.

The school’s media center will have some new computers as well as some computers from the old building.

“So much that used to be on books and paper you have access to on the Internet,” Nance said. “We still have shelves for all our books.”

Each floor of the building has been painted with a different accent color. Maroon, burnt orange and sage green were picked with the help of a color psychologist to inspire energy and alertness in students.

In addition to 54 cameras, the school’s security system also features a gate that can be shut to close all access to the academic portions of the school while allowing access to the auditorium and cafeteria.

Outside the auditorium in display cases are playbills from several musicals the schools have presented over the years.

The playbills were found in the original structure, tucked away in filing cabinets and in other places.

“It’s fun to look at how much the prices have changed and what time they started,” Nance said.

The auditorium seats 600 and features painted oak flooring and an orchestra pit.

“We never had an orchestra pit before, this is new,” Nance said.

Three chandeliers from the old building grace the auditorium. The school also has two new dressing rooms near the auditorium.

The nearby band room offers two storage areas for uniforms and instruments, as well as a percussion room and an office for the band director.

The school’s gymnasium has a weight room with windows. The gym’s vinyl bleachers allow seating for 600 people.

The school’s four science laboratories have seven sink stations each. All the water from the sinks will be filtered with a carbon filtration system before going into the regular water system.

While the student population will get its first peek at the structure today when they pick up their class schedules, some students have already been inside. The district had permission to have this year’s musical in the building. Members of the school’s football team could be found Thursday lying on the gymnasium floor, resting between two-a-day practices.

“It’s cool, literally,” Tom Saul, a junior member of the team, joked. “That’s the best part right now.”

School staff members were a little more focused on the new building.

“It’s great,” Angelika Daniels, the school’s college advisor, said of the building. “I love it. When I walked in here the first time I thought it’s new, but it’s familiar because of the layout. Everyone’s going to have to get used to it. I think it’s really nice the way it turned out.”

Principal Joe Rowe is impressed with the school as well.

“I’m just thankful for the community and the voters for the opportunity we have in such a beautiful, great facility,” he said adding that he is glad to have the school back “home” on Seventh Street.

“I’ve been envious of school facilities throughout the county that we’ve seen and now we get the top of the line school.”