TORONTO - It wasn't without some effort, both literally and figuratively, for those involved in the May 19 groundbreaking ceremony for the city school district's new building.
More than 20 pupils, students, local dignitaries, members of the city school board and local politicians dug deep with shovels into the hard, compacted to dirt for the beginning of a dream -a new building to house sixth- through 12th-graders by August 2013.
The circumstances leading up to the day were fraught with some speed bumps along the way, including convincing city residents to approve a bond issue to pay for the city's portion for construction. City voters overwhelmingly approved the bond issue nearly 2-1, with the Ohio School Facilities Commission picking up most of the tab for the new building.
The state-of-the-art high school facility will contain new labs for science, technology for wireless Internet and meeting rooms, room-to-room broadcasting and intercom communication, as well as improved emergency communication systems.
Toronto was the only school district in the state to successfully pass its bond issue in 2010. Fred Burns, superintendent, said the goal is now in sight.
"We started out with our slogan being 'Our Kids Can't Wait,'" said Burns, adding the building should be completed by August of next year. "Today it becomes 'Our Kids Won't have to Wait Much Longer.' A groundbreaking signifies the planting of seeds. From today's dirt will emerge a beautiful new building."
Robert Reeves, longtime district educator and current school board president, said the day was historic for Toronto and its future.
"How did we get here today? Two words- team effort," said Reeves. "Our new slogan is 'Building a Future.' Everything in a community revolves around its school district. Lose it, and you lose your identity. We are committed to making Toronto City Schools the best they can be."
"The sun is shining, and this is a memorable day for us," said city Mayor John Geddis, adding the district also is building "a sense of pride."
The mayor also thanked all those involved in making the building project a reality.
Karen Little of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, said "This is my favorite part of the job. Congratulations, and good luck on a successful project."
State Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, said he was delighted to see the project make its way through Ohio government.
"I offer my congratulations to you and the people of this community for putting education first," said Gentile, adding pupils and students will be educated in a state-of-the-art facility, "a safe, peaceful place they can learn in. It's given me great pride to see this project progress. I was your voice in Columbus."
Gentile also said the project would provide much-needed employment for local workers. He thanked the citizens of Toronto for "their optimism to give (students and pupils) the kind of facility they deserve."
Holly Eckard, current president of the Class of 2014 - the first class to graduate from the new school building - also offered her thanks.
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