BW Intermediate School opens its doors on Aug. 22
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Last Wednesday (August 22) was the first day of school for students living in the Big Walnut Local School District. But for district fifth and sixth grade students it was more than the start of a new school year; it was the inaugural day of the district’s new Big Walnut Intermediate School.
The plan to use the old middle school building on Baughman Street in Sunbury as a grade five and six intermediate school is several years old, but the plan had been put on the back burner while the district struggled to get a 7.5-mil emergency operating levy approved by voters.
When the new 700-student Big Walnut Middle School building was built on Cheshire Road it was planned as a grade seven and eight facility. Sixth grade students would use the intermediate school; fifth graders would be moved out of the district’s three elementary buildings, allowing room for growth at Big Walnut Elementary, General Rosecrans Elementary and Hylen Souders Elementary.
Last school year GRE, BWE and the Big Walnut Middle School were operating at or near capacity, and with district finances under control the intermediate school concept was resurrected. At 9:10 a.m. last Wednesday, life at the new Big Walnut Intermediate School began.
Well, almost. Because of the district’s new three-tier busing system, the first bus did not arrive at the intermediate school until 9:13 a.m.
But that was not a problem. Big Walnut folks are able to adapt and improvise. By 9:30 a.m. almost everyone was in place, classes were underway, and building principal Steve Butler was able to stop holding his breath.
“I’m really looking forward to the new school year and the educational opportunities provided by this intermediate school,” Butler said. “I think the intermediate school is the right thing to do. Having the fifth and sixth grades in this setting together with programs designed around their age group is going to enhance their learning. I know the teachers are especially excited.”
Butler said he also knows that students were excited about the new grade five and six building.
“The night before school opened I was at the school and two girls who would be attending the intermediate school were at a nearby sporting event, and I overheard them talking to each other,” Butler said. “One of the girls told her friend that she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night; that coming to the new intermediate school was just like Christmas.”
District superintendent Steve Mazzi, who has a new office in a wing of the intermediate school, said he was also excited about the entire grade five and six building, a concept that he endorsed from the earliest days of planning the new middle school.
“This is going to be a great opportunity for students to move from the elementary schools to the middle school, and the teachers here are so keen on the understanding of both the elementary child and the middle school child,” Mazzi said. “For me, it’s great to step out of my office and right into a building with students.”