By Jordan Cohen
Amid a festive setting attended by more than 100 people under a red-and-white tent, groups consisting of administrators, students and architects conducted the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $27 million Niles McKinley High School.
“It’s not easy to say goodbye to the old high school, but it’s time for Niles to move forward to meet the needs of future generations,” Superintendent Rocco Adduci said at Friday’s event.
The 123,000-square-foot complex will consist of 27 academic classrooms along with other sections designed for art, instrumental and vocal music and a gymnasium.
It has been designed to accommodate 675 students and is expected to be completed by September 2013.
The high school is one component of a $56 million building program that includes two new elementary schools.
Much of it was financed through funds provided by the Ohio School Facilities Commission with voters approving a $16 million bond issue to cover the local share last year.
“Without community support for the bond issue, we would not be here today,” said Marlene Rhodes, board of education president.
Adduci said demolition of two older elementary schools — Bonham and Lincoln — should begin next week.
The new high school is adjacent to the building it will eventually replace. The current high school opened in 1957 and graduated its first class in 1958. Two members of that class who eventually married each other, Anthony and Beth Perrone of Niles, participated in the groundbreaking. Their son, Tony, is a first-year member of the Niles Board of Education.
A high school freshman, Lorenzo Bianco, 15, served as a representative of his class for the ceremony. He will be a senior and a member of the first graduating class when the new school opens in three years.
“It’s going to be nice,” Lorenzo said. “We’ll have air conditioning.”