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The future begins now: Ground broken for new Northwood campus (UPDATED, VIDEO)

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    Elyria students give the thumbs up at the Northwood Campus groundbreaking ceremony on N. Abbe Rd. on Nov. 27.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria students participate in the Northwood Campus groundbreaking ceremony on North Abbe Road on Nov. 27.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria students participating in the Northwood Campus groundbreaking ceremony on North Abbe Rd. on Nov. 27.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria School Board members participate in the Northwood Campus groundbreaking ceremony on North Abbe Road on Nov. 27.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria School Board president Greg Elek speaks at the Northwood Campus groundbreaking ceremony on North Abbe Road on Nov. 27.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria Schools superintendent Tom Jama speaks at the Northwood Campus groundbreaking ceremony on North Abbe Road on Nov. 27.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — The district’s new Northwood Campus School will be the first of Elyria’s five soon-to-be constructed facilities, and it also will usher in a new campus-style concept that will keep Elyria students in one building from preschool to the end of middle school.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the school, which contractors will build off of North Abbe Road on the site of Pioneer Field and the former Spring Valley Elementary School, took place Monday, bringing together students and residents to the future school’s location. Earlier this month, school officials broke ground on the district’s new $14 million multisports athletic complex, meaning the district’s master plan is well on its way.

“It was about 13 months ago when we, the district, came to our residents and asked for support in changing the face of the city of Elyria and the Elyria School District by building five new schools and a brand new athletic complex, and today is the beginning,” Superintendent Tom Jama said. “… This campus-style school will be second to none, and we are doing this because we believe our students deserve the best.”

While getting the bond issue passed was just one hurdle the district had to jump on its journey to new schools, convincing parents and residents that putting students between the ages of 3 and 13 in the same building would work was another. Initially, many worried that younger children would cross paths with older children, and the developmental differences between the two would clash.

Last month, when the district unveiled the schematic designs for the building, it was Westwood Principal Teresa Lengal who described how the building’s design took into account community concerns about the separation between younger Pioneers and those going into elementary and middle school.

The preschool portion will be a more traditional school design with a one hallway wing with 12 classrooms and space for gross motor skill development. There will be small spaces outside the classrooms for more individual work with students. The entrance will have double-entry security, the building will have a dedicated bus lane, and there will be a separate outdoor play space.

There will be a wing for elementary students with a separate entrance, and the middle school portion will be split between fifth and sixth grades on the first floor of the middle school wing and seventh and eighth grades on the second floor.

“The new Northwood campus will incorporate the latest cutting-edge trends in educational facility design using extended learning areas and collaborative spaces that are progressive and flexible,” said David Stahl, the manager of AECOM Construction Group of Cleveland, which is the district’s lead firm on a three-firm construction management team that will bring the design’s of the Architectural Vision Group to fruition.

Much like with Elyria High School when it was reconstructed and renovated to meet the changing needs of students, many see this new school on the city’s north side as a transformational project for the city.

“Children,” Mayor Holly Brinda said to the dozens of youngsters in attendance, “I don’t know if you realize it, but in the state of Ohio I’m not sure there is another community that can say it’s rebuilding its entire school district. And, how awesome is that? Education is the foundation for everything we do in the city of Elyria.”

The groundbreaking included a makeshift mound of dirt for the ceremonial turning of the soil. Soon, the real work will get underway as Spring Valley is scheduled for demolition.

An excavator perched nearby Monday offered the dramatic effect needed for the event but also was a nod to the good things to come.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.



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