WELLINGTON — Laying the groundwork to build a new middle school and auditorium was largely the work of the community, so it’s no surprise that they would turn out for the ceremonial groundbreaking on Friday.
Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams, who was invited to speak at the event, said he was surprised by the outpouring of support and by the large attendance.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow.’ I’ve been to a lot of groundbreaking ceremonies, but this is definitely the most energetic,” he said.
The community came out in full force, filling the Wellington High School gymnasium, where the event was moved due to the weather. Students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade — students who will utilize the new McCormick Middle School — donned hardhats and shoveled into the gym floor, which was lined with makeshift topsoil.
“The best-laid plans of mice and men gave way to Mother Nature,” Superintendent John Nolan remarked, laughing.
The ceremony Friday was to mark the beginning of construction of the new McCormick Middle School, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. The new facility will house students in fourth through eighth grades.
The new building was long overdue, said Wellington Mayor Barb O’Keefe, who attended Friday’s ceremony.
Named the worst school building in the state by the Ohio Facilities Commission, the oldest part of McCormick Middle School was built in 1867. The district’s “new” school — Wellington High School — was built in 1970 or 1971.
“Our ranking as having one of the worst schools in Ohio will soon be over,” she said.
O’Keefe joined state Rep. Terry Boose, R-Norwalk, and state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, at the ceremony.
School board president Joe Calfo applauded Wellington residents for their work to pass a 36-year bond issue to fund the construction of the new building. The levy was approved by about 2,300 voters.
In addition, he thanked residents who donated to a community-led campaign to raise $2.5 million for the construction of a new community auditorium. The community surpassed its fundraising goal, with the extra money raised going toward continued maintenance of the future facility.
The groundbreaking for that facility will be in June.
“As a district, we need to thank you for those who have gotten us to this point,” Calfo said.