MINGO JUNCTION - All the furniture is in place. The staff is prepared. The pupils are getting settled, and now, finally, the ribbon has been cut.
The new Indian Creek Middle School is now "official" after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night.
Superintendent John Rocchi welcomed district supporters, including school board members, government officials and community members, at a reception and thanked supporters of Indian Creek. The new middle school is a product of a 4.95-mill bond levy passed in 2008.
SPECIAL DAY — State Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, presented Indian Creek School Superintendent John Rocchi with a proclamation for the new middle school project at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night. On hand for the event were, from left, state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire; Rocchi; Gentile; and middle school Principal John Belt. - Jess Looman
"Thank you to the community members, the voters and the taxpayers of the district who support Indian Creek education, the levy campaign and the decision to build a new middle school," Rocchi said.
The school houses sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
Also on hand for the ceremony were state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, and state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, who offered some kind words.
"I want to congratulate the district on the passage of the levy," Cera said. "Congratulations to Mr. Rocchi and his staff for their hard work, and thank you for hiring local laborers as well to help with the project. This is a beautiful facility and you should be commended for your hard work. Now it is up to the legislators to encourage the governor to propose funds that will help our schools without having to seek a ton of money from the taxpayers. We need to make sure our schools have the funds they need to provide quality education."
Gentile also thanked the voters for stepping up the plate and making public education a priority.
"Thank you to the district officials for sticking with the project and making it happen," he stated. "Also, thank you for having local laborers as a part of the project, as Mr. Cera said. It is always great to keep money invested in local workers.
"It is also critically important to have facilities to make students feel welcome, comfortable and want to learn. This is a beautiful facility and state Representative Cera and I will be your voice in Columbus to make sure our students have the best facilities to be educated in."
John Belt, middle school principal, then told the crowd that the word of the day was "wow."
"When the students first came through the door it was, 'wow,'" he said. "They were completely blown away. You could see the sparkle in their eyes and they were all smiles. We also had a basketball game here the other night and everyone who attended was amazed by the facility. It is an amazing accomplishment for this district.
"I want to thank the voters for their support and as a parent to a student who is able to attend this school, I say thank you," he emotionally said. "I am thankful for the opportunity to be the first principal in this school."
Board President Dr. John Figel thanked district supporters both past and present.
"This is a project that has been worked on for more than 20 years," he explained. "You made this happen. There is also a lot of folks who aren't with us today who worked diligently on this project as well. I want to thank Mr. Jene Watkins (past superintendent) for all of his hard work over the years, as well as the teachers, staff and board members for all of their support. Indian Creek has the best staff and teachers, second to none, and this opportunity has given them and the students a place to excel."
Rocchi concluded the ceremony by reminding district voters the administration wants to "provide the best facilities to our students and staff."
"Every student deserves to have safe and secure facilities, which provide the technological capabilities to prepare them for life in today's society," he said. "Our community must continue to invest in our school system, as it is an extension of the home. Our children are depending on us to ensure they have the skills to live a productive life in our society. Together as the Indian Creek community, we will produce students who prosper and are proud to say they were educated with the help of a community that supports education. I want to truly thank everyone who has made this school a reality, and I look forward to continued partnerships with the Indian Creek community."
Pupils' first day at the new school was Wednesday.
The building has new computers, furniture and office equipment, as well as a new state-of-the-art science and computer lab. There's also a cafetorium and a new gymnasium.