Shelby City Schools opens new building for pre-K-8 classrooms

SHELBY — A digital sign that welcomes visitors Shelby City Schools proclaims, “It’s a great day to be a Whippet!”

Tuesday was a particularly good day as the district opened a new building for pre-K-8 classes.

“It’s kind of surreal that we’ve finally come to this,” said school board president Lorie White. “We’ve dreamed of it for so long, ever since we built the school. It’s always been part of the strategic plan.”

The high school opened in 2013. With the new building, all students are on one campus. The district obtained this new school in conjunction with the Ohio Facilities Building Commission which did not require voter approval.

“Fortunately, we were able to see this come to fruition,” Superintendent Tim Tarvin said. “It’s exciting for our staff, our students and certainly our families.”

He said a committee had recommended years ago to build the high school first.

Tarvin, Assistant Superintendent Paul Walker and White directed traffic on the first day. Grades 6-8 students arrived at 7:10 a.m.

“I knew a lot would happen,” White said of his decision to supply “extra” hands. “It’s exciting.”

The cafeteria in Shelby City Schools' new Pre-K-8 building can accommodate up to 400 students.

Several staff members welcome students, families

STEM teacher Steve Clark was also on hand to greet students as they got off the bus. A boy asked him about breakfast.

As they greeted everyone, the construction workers continued to put the finishing touches on the project. Students in grades 6-8 will attend the old middle school portion of the building for the time being.

“We’re looking at October 3. We’ll see in a week or two,” Tarvin said of this wing opening.

The superintendent mentioned the possibility in a recent letter to residents. Tarvin attributed the uncertainty to labor shutdowns and supply chain delays affecting the construction schedule.

“As construction progressed this summer, the district was faced with two options,” Tarvin wrote. “First, to ensure that the building is complete in all areas before school begins, the district may delay the opening of the entire pre-K-8 building.

“The district has always felt strongly that it was imperative to get our students into the new building as soon as possible, so this was never a viable option for the district to consider.”

The other option was for Adena, the construction manager, to focus most of his resources on the pre-K-5 wings to ensure substantial completion of those areas.

This part was ready to go.

The playground at Shelby City Schools' new Pre-K-8 building, which opened on Tuesday.

“It’s amazing,” said Kelly Kuhn, one of the building’s three managers, adding that the new school has a “warm vibe.”

Walker gave a News Journal reporter and photographer a tour of the pre-K-8 portion. The students arrived at 8:10 a.m.

The playground has a “wow” factor

The cafeteria, which seats 400 people, has the words “We Are Shelby” inscribed on a wall in gray block letters. Lunch will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There are four service lines.

“It’s a big operation,” Walker said.

The playground is a centerpiece, with brightly colored equipment, five basketball hoops, a sensory walk, and a safety fence.

“He’s got a ‘wow’ factor,” Walker said.

Third and fourth graders are on different sides of a pod, while fifth graders are on the second floor. Extensive learning areas provide students with opportunities in a comfortable setting.

To prepare, Kuhn said staffers “unpacked a lot.”

“The teachers have been here for a little over a week,” the principal said. “They thought they would have (only) 48 hours.”

The new building will last much longer than that.

“This will serve the community exceptionally well for many, many years,” Tarvin said.

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An extended learning module in Shelby City Schools new Pre-K-8 building.