Steve Butler to head up BW Intermediate School
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
When the new Big Walnut Middle School on Cheshire Road was on the drawing board it was intended to become a grade seven/eight facility, and the old Baughman Street middle school was going to serve students in grades five and six. The philosophy was that serving only two grades in the new middle school would allow ample room for growth in that building, and removing fifth-graders from the districts three elementary schools to an intermediate building would also provide room for growth in the elementary buildings.
When the new middle school was dedicated last August, a decision had been made to mothball the old middle school, make the new middle school a grade six/seven/eight building and direct the savings towards programs for students. As that decision was made, Big Walnut Local School District Superintendent Steve Mazzi emphasized that he was still in favor of the district opening a grade five/six intermediate school at the old middle school – when it could be justified financially.
That justification was announced during the February 13 board of education meeting when members of the board approved a motion to move ahead with opening the Baughman Street building as a grade five and six intermediate school. It was subsequently announced that a familiar face would take the helm at the intermediate school — Steve Butler will be the Big Walnut Intermediate School (BWIS) principal.
Butler first came to Big Walnut during the 1974–75 school year, serving at the then Big Walnut Eighth Grade Building at the old Harlem School in Center Village. He left the district and came back in January of 1984 when there was a grade seven/eight intermediate school at the Harrison Street building; and in 1991 Butler served in the district’s traditional sixth, seventh and eight grade middle school.
But say the name Steve Butler today and most folks think of Hylen Souders Elementary School, where Butler sat in the principal’s chair from 1996 until 2009. After retiring from Souders, Butler served for three years as the school district’s gifted coordinator, but he said he’s looking forward to occupying a principal’s office again.
“I’m really looking forward to working with kids on a daily basis again,” Butler said during a recent interview in his new office at the intermediate school. “The classroom is where education really happens. As administrators we give teachers support, but as a principal you’re right there where it’s happening.”
The Big Walnut Intermediate School Office is located in the old middle school office; the building’s main student entrance will be the west entrance facing the high school football stadium. During a building tour Butler said fifth grade students will use the two hallways closest to the gymnasium; sixth grade classrooms will be in the former south eighth-grade hall.
During the June 29 board of education meeting district assistant superintendent Gary Barber said the grade five/six building would transition between a traditional elementary school format with students in the same classroom all day and a middle school format with students moving from class to class.
Butler said intermediate school sixth-graders will go from class to class; fifth-graders to some degree.
“Fifth graders will have language arts and social studies in one classroom, and another teacher for math and science,” Butler said. “Sixth graders will have language arts, math, social studies and science with different teachers in different classrooms. Everyone will have a seven-period day with a one half-hour lunch and one half-hour recess.
“Big Walnut Intermediate School will serve 225 fifth grade students and 210 sixth-graders,” Butler continued. “There will be eight general education teachers at each grade level. And fifth graders will be happy – they’ll now have their own hallway lockers.”
Butler said school will run from 9:10 a.m. until 4 p.m. to accommodate the district’s new three-tier busing program. SACC will be offered at BWIS from 7 a.m. until students are released to classes in the morning, and after school until 6 p.m. (For SACC information contact Child Care Unlimited, Inc. at 740–965-5900 or 740–967-8333.)
BWIS will have art, music and physical education on rotation, and also opportunities during the day for library and technology, Butler said. While there will not be traditional elementary school playground equipment, there will be a basketball area, benches and picnic tables in the patio area for socialization.
The district’s Director of Academic Achievement Angie Pollock said she’s also looking forward to the new intermediate school format.
“Academically we’re very excited about being able to bring our fifth grade staff to work together under the same roof, and work vertically with the sixth grade,” Pollock said. “They’ll be able to share ideas and share the workload, and that translates into more successful students.”
Pollock said there will be a focus on technology at the intermediate school with an emphasis on students using technology in their daily work. The entire building will have Wi-Fi, there will be a tablet computer lab, and each general education room will have a smart board.
Butler said Chris Epstein will do fifth-grade art at BWIS, Justin Heck will do fifth-grade music and Scotty Hefner will do fifth-grade physical education; Amy Read will do sixth-grade music, Mike Denton will do sixth-grade physical education and Barb Porter will do sixth-grade art.
Parents of REACH students who are concerned about the their children moving to the intermediate school this year have nothing to worry about, Butler said. Doug Germann will be the Big Walnut Elementary and Big Walnut Intermediate School gifted teacher; Nicole Leinweber will provide gifted services at General Rosecrans Elementary and Hylen Souders.
“I think of a grade five and six building as giving students a chance to grow up,” Butler said. “We want to have an active student government, and provide opportunities for students to do community service. There are two things I want to work on. The first is good manners — being polite, respectful and thoughtful; and then I want to emphasize the difference between pride and spirit.
“This is a great community, and we’ve got great kids,” Butler added. “I’m looking forward to working with this age group. I’ve always been convinced that what you put into them by the age of 13 you get out of them by the age of 23.”
Big Walnut Intermediate School will hold an open house at 4 p.m. on Monday, August 20. Additional information will be posted on the intermediate school page of the Big Walnut Local School District website. To access the intermediate school web page go to < bigwalnut.k12.oh.us >, click Schools and click Big Walnut Intermediate School on the drop-down menu.
Big Walnut Intermediate School is located at 105 Baughman Street in Sunbury.