Champion dedicates new school complex

CHAMPION — It was 103 years ago this fall when Champion Central Elementary School was officially dedicated, and after 14 months of planning and 18 months of construction, a new milestone was marked in the district’s history with the opening of a new PK-8 School complex.

Hundreds of students, parents, staff and community members gathered Friday inside the $31.3 million school complex’s cafetorium for an official dedication for the new building located off state Route 45, south of Champion High School.

Board of Education President Jim Scher said the new state-of-the-art complex is dedicated to all the hard work of those who made it possible but also as a tribute to those who more than 100 years ago laid the foundation for building the original school.

“This building is a crown jewel of the township,” Scher said.

Local and state officials praised voters who supported the project. Voters in the district passed a bond levy to raise the local share for the complex with the remainder coming from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

U.S. Rep Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, said the new school would not have been made possible without the effort of “ordinary people who do extraordinary things.”

“You the taxpayers in Champion stepped up to do your part and provide an opportunity for children,” he said.

State Rep. Michael J. O’Brien, D-Warren, agreed with the support and personal sacrifice of the taxpayers, saying “your children will be taught in a state-of-the-art school.”

Champion Trustee Chairman Rex Fee said the opening of the school “is a landmark occasion for the township.”

“This was once a mere vision and today has become a reality,” Fee said.

To commemorate the event, the Champion High School band, led by director Tyler Husosky, performed a special tribute song “The Heart of Champion.”

Art teachers Sandra Ciminero and Greg Kittle had their students create special artwork that will be displayed at the new school. Elementary and middle school students in grades kindergarten to eighth gathered various items, including books, t-shirts, staff and student photos, scholastic magazines, and a newspaper, to be placed in two time capsules buried at the building and to be opened in 100 years.

Following the program, the public had more than an hour to tour the school.

Eighth-grader Kyra Dickson, 13, said she was excited to see much larger classrooms and a lounge study area outside her eighth-grade classrooms.

“It’s very nice,” she said, noting the first day of school for students is Thursday.

The 126,000-square-foot complex is replacing two schools — Central Elementary, built in 1915, and Champion Middle School, built in 1965. Both will demolished this fall.

School officials said the complex has two regulation size gymnasiums, state of the art science labs and classrooms with extended learning areas so they can open doors and do extended learning in group sessions.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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