By SCOTT COTTOS
One week in, and the new Fostoria Junior/Senior High School building is already lighting up people’s lives.
The brightness of the new building, buoyed by the allowance of plenty of natural light to enter through windows, was a topic of conversation Sunday as visitors attended an open house.
The 123,314 square-foot, nearly $50 million building — most of the cost covered by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission — opened to students last Monday with the beginning of the school year’s second semester.
“A common denominator among the students is how much brighter and inviting this building is,” Superintendent Andrew Sprang said during a gathering in the new junior high gymnasium prior to visitors being permitted to tour the building.
The gathering included music played by the Redmen Pride Band, remarks from Sprang, State Rep. William Reineke and Mayor Eric Keckler and the presentation of a symbolic key to Principal Drew Bauman from Matt Hibner of the Garmann Miller and Associates architectural firm.
“I think having open light, like Mr. Sprang mentioned earlier, is really going to be positive,” senior Maddie Cook said while visitors traversed the hallways after the opening activities. “It’s already a positive vibe. I can feel the difference. Hopefully it’ll be a good learning space for Fostoria students.”
Said former Fostoria teacher John Tinsman: “The light — that’s one of the things I’ve noticed, is you have more natural light coming in than in the old building. I was lucky. I had an outside room, which had a little, narrow window.”
The new building is directly to the north of the former junior/senior high school, on top of what used to be the north parking lot.
The front entrance includes an illuminated Fostoria City Schools logo. Within, one will find pods of classrooms that can be expanded with movable walls, an auxiliary and junior high gymnasium, a “Red Zone” store selling school apparel, mobile furniture, a tiered lounge area for students across from the media center and a cafeteria/auditorium that features a variety of seating styles and a bright red stage background with “Redmen” spelled out in large letters.
The pods are colored blue, green, yellow and orange, lending to the brightness of the facility.
“In the other building, everything was the same (color) all the way around, basically,” Tinsman said.
Alan Kaminsky, a local businessman and the public address announcer for Redmen boys basketball home games, called the new school “amazing.”
“My wife, Teri, and I were involved in this at the beginning,” he said. “We helped try to get the levy passed five years ago. I was just talking to (Fostoria Board of Education President) Tom Guernsey, and we remember sitting at the Eagles Club waiting for the votes to come in. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years and here we are today. It’s an amazing facility. It’s great for the kids and the community.”
Sprang said the building was built with flexibility in mind to accommodate the needs of students and the curriculum as they evolve.
“It’s just a great day for the community, it’s a great day for the school,” he said during a reception in the cafeteria near the end of Sunday’s event. “I’m just so excited to hear the generations coming back and sharing things that they like and asking questions and just the excitement about what we have to offer here. I think our students have adjusted well into the building.
“I think it’s just about really cherishing the good fortune that we have to be able to have this because there are a lot of places that don’t get these opportunities. So, it’s a great day.”