Great day to be a Wildcat as Edison unveils field house

CEREMONY HELD — Among the participants in Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting and open house of the field house at Edison High School in Richmond as the final phase of the unified sports complex were, from left, Superintendent Bill Beattie, school board President Aaron Richardson, and school board members Matt Bordash, Ron Smyth and Anna Ault. -- Janice Kiaski

RICHMOND — Wednesday was a great day to be an Edison Wildcat.

So assured Edison Local Schools Superintendent Bill Beattie in welcoming the crowd to Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting and open house marking the completion of Edison High School’s $12 million unified sports complex and renovation project.

As the field house officially was unveiled to the public, Beattie expressed gratitude to many — to school board members for attending as well as Jefferson County commissioners, township trustees, the Cincinnati-based SHP architectural firm and Canfield-based Hively Construction, the general contractor “for designing and building such a beautiful facility.”

Beattie’s appreciation extended “to everyone here this evening joining us for this great event. This is a grand occasion for all of us, a project that has come to life after two and a half years of continuous work.”

The school board began developing a vision in November 2019, Beattie told the audience, many under the protection of umbrellas as raindrops began to fall. That was after voters approved a 2.1-mill emergency renewable levy “to bring together all of our sports facilities to one centralized location and improve other areas of our facilities for our students.”

CHECKING IT OUT — Visitors had a chance Wednesday to get a first-time look at Edison High School’s new field house where the Class of 2022 will have its commencement ceremony on May 27. -- Janice Kiaski

Students can now participate in extracurricular activities without leaving the campus of Edison High School, Beattie pointed out. “There’s a great multipurpose facility for football and soccer, new turf facilities for baseball and softball, a brand new 1,500-seat field house for volleyball, basketball and wrestling and renovated spaces for band, choir and VoAg,” he said.

“We will host other events in this great building as well,” Beattie said, referring to the field house, “including graduation of the Class of 2022 on May 27 at 7 p.m. This is all because of your public support, and we at Edison are eternally grateful,” Beattie said.

“Thank you for being here and celebrating this great day in the Edison Local School District, and it’s a great day to be a Wildcat.”

Edison School Board President Aaron Richardson had a thank-you list as well, one that included members of the school board for their unified vision throughout the planning and construction process. “Specifically, I’d like to thank the members of our building committee, Ron Smyth and Matt Bordash. These two worked tirelessly on layout, design and every detail of all the facilities that you see. I’d also like to thank Bill Beattie, (Principal) Matt Morrison and our coaches for their input and cooperation with this,” Richardson added.

“Lastly, I’d like to thank the community members who have provided us with the funding for these projects and provided us with feedback and support,” he said. “The projects that we celebrate today are a physical manifestation of what we’re trying to build in our schools here at Edison. This board has put an emphasis on safety and culture. By completing these facilities, we’ve provided a centralized location for our sports programs and given our students something to take pride in,” Richardson continued.

“I’m excited to come celebrate graduation here next week for the first time in the fieldhouse, and I look forward to seeing the success our athletes will have here for years to come,” he said.

The ceremony included the Edison band playing the national anthem and the choir singing the school’s alma mater.

The 90-minute open house gave visitors a chance to check out the fieldhouse which sports a basketball court, conference rooms and seating for 1,500. There’s also a walking track and fitness area that will be available for public use on a schedule to be announced.

The overall project also involved a complete renovation of the high school auditorium that included state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems and a remodeled band room. A new parking lot rounds out the project and allows for parents, students and spectators attending events to have plenty of well-lit, convenient parking, officials noted.

As visitors mingled in the new facilities, Ron Smyth reflected on what was a special day in the school district’s history.

“As I look at what we’ve got here, we basically duct-taped this district together for 30 years, and now we’ve got this,” observed Smyth, whose connection to the district has been as a student, teacher, coach, athletic director and now five-year school board member.

“We went through hard times where they had to close buildings, and they had to lay off teachers. They had to stop busing and now to have something like this for our students, I think going through all that I’ve got a special appreciation for it. I think it’s really special. I’m very happy,” Smyth said.

Rubberized flooring for the walking track should be completed in seven to 10 days, according to Smyth,

“A big thing for us is to incorporate the community as well as the school. Obviously, it’s the community that supported it and made it happen, so hopefully we’re able to take advantage of it,” Smyth added.

New and improved facilities aside, Smyth said education is the No. 1 priority.

“As proud as we are and as symbolic as this is, academics and curriculum still come first,” he said.

“This is something you can see and you can put your thumb on, but by no means had the voters chosen not to do this, we were still going to be able to push ahead in that area, which of course is what school is for.”


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