By Aziza Jackson
URBANA, Ohio — Urbana City Schools recently opened the doors to its new elementary and junior high school for new and returning students.
The new Urbana Elementary and Junior High School will serve about 1,500 students from preschool through eighth grade.
According to the Springfield News-Sun, the $37 million project was approved by taxpayers in November 2014. It is reportedly the second building the district has opened in a year; a new high school building was opened in April.
“It’s been a great start to the first day in our new school,” said Superintendent of Urbana City Schools Charles Thiel to the News-Sun. “As I stood out front helping to direct traffic I realized the number of kids and families and adults are all a part of the programs of our schools. We were spread out throughout the city, but when you combined them into one building there is a lot of people that are using our resources and being part of the school program.”
The News-Sun reports that the district pushed back the start date so the building could be finished before the start of school. Students can now reportedly look forward to air conditioning, a large entrance and lobby area, and learning pods divided by grade level.
According to the News-Sun, the district considers the learning pods to be a significant advancement in the building’s design after previously having three buildings that served different grades.
A single pod consists of a cluster of classrooms that support 21st-century teaching trends, a collaboration area, a teacher lounge, a private study area, and locker space for students. All teachers in each grade level have classrooms designated in a particular pod which will allows them to work more closely together.
The school also reportedly has updated security features and has a large cafeteria that can be divided based on the age of students. There is a new gymnasium that is large enough for a regulation-size high school basketball court and new playground equipment that was designed with the help of student council.
An official ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the new school will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7.
Reports from the Springfield News-Sun contributed to this story.