On the morning of February 28, the Fayette School District took two huge steps forward in expansion for the future of the children of the village with two groundbreaking ceremonies on the south and east side of the Fayette School building. Despite the persistence of light rain, the events were well attended, and the product of years of painstaking and detailed work by the community and the School.
Ever since the relocation of the school from the old Eagle Street facility to the current building, there has been a lingering question about athletics. Volleyball and basketball teams found new homes in the new gymnasiums, but the baseball and softball teams were relegated to the use of the park diamonds…adequate, but leaving a lot to be desired. The track facilities, also located in the park, have all but been reclaimed by the earth that has broken them down over the years. With a new building though, came a new hope for new facilities to occupy the fields to the south, and especially to the west of the building. A little over five years ago, the Fayette Athletic Boosters, while continuing on in their traditional functions, took on another moniker in order to make clear what they had in mind for a long-term goal. The group ‘Friends for the Fields’ was born, and the fundraising drive for new athletic facilities was on.
Meanwhile, the change of school venues proved to be more than a plus for the Vo-Ag Department. Well before the move to the new building, the Board of Education hired Pamela Schultz to front the Vo-Ag department, and that decision paid dividends that can be best described as explosive. Ms. Schultz and a few dedicated students took what was a dead Fayette FFA program, and breathed into it a new vitality that saw awards and special recognitions flowing into it practically immediately. The Vo-Ag and FFA fire was lit, and that fire spread rapidly through not just the high school ranks, but the junior high as well. Soon, it became more than obvious that the once ample Vo-Ag class space was becoming inadequate. With the Vo-Ag program now the ‘cool class’, and a demand for the math, science, engineering and vocational educational disciplines that it provides rapidly growing, the need for expansion of the Vo-Ag facilities was imperative.
Both expansion projects have been in the works for years. The February 13 meeting of the Board of Education saw nearly $1 million transferred to the building fund. On a gray, rainy morning of February 28, the plans saw their first physical actions with the dual groundbreakings.
Staff, students and guests assembled in the parking lot at the southwest corner of the building, which faced the outside wall of the current Vo-Ag Department. Board of Education President, Kirk Keiser, told the assembly that with the expansion of the Vo-Ag classrooms, the District was, “…looking forward to great things.” District Superintendent, Erik Belcher, addressed the students, stating, “Okay kids…this is meant for you guys. This building is meant for you. This building is going to be your future. Mrs. Schultz has grown this class from 27 to nearly 100 in the last eight or nine years.” He went on to talk about the opportunities that will be made available in the new facility that simply could not be accommodated in the current classrooms. With that, the shovels were distributed, and a delegation consisting of administration, board members, and Ohio FFA President Mary Buehler took the first round of breaking ground for the new facility.
“I’m very excited,” said a beaming Pamela Schultz. “It’s been a long time coming. We started with just 27 kids in 2006. Now, over 60 percent of the ninth through twelfth grade kids are in the Ag program this year. It gets a little entertaining when you’re in there with 15 freshmen and ten-foot boards for woodworking, so the extra space is definitely needed.” Looking forward, she said, “The future is pretty open. We’re going to have a lot more opportunities involving some programming with our students for the CNC machines, and getting them ready for industry. We’re going into more different programs like aquaculture and hydroponics, along with more plasma cutting and more woodworking.”
Moving over to the east side of the building, the assembly came to a stop on the east side of the parking lot, facing the field where the next groundbreaking ceremonies were to take place. Mr. Belcher detailed to the audience what was to soon be making an appearance in the fields. Pointing to the east field where the new athletic complex is to be located, he said, “On the far side, we’re going to have an eight-lane track that will be all-weather. It’s never going to get muddy; it’s going to have a rubber surface. We’re also going to have a very nice Varsity baseball diamond over here, and back here we will have our softball field.”
“How many of you are going to play tee ball, Little League or softball,” Mr. Belcher asked. Pointing back to the south fields, he said, “Right over there, there will be three more fields going in. It’s going to be just for you guys. With that in mind, this is something where you’re going to be spending a lot of time during the summers. You’re going to take a lot of pride in this.” With that, a similar delegation consisting of administration, board members and faculty broke ground for the new Fayette Athletic Complex.
The construction fences are already up around the south parking lot, and the building processes for both projects will soon be underway. Once complete, expect the words of Mr. Belcher to ring true in both areas, “You’re going to take a lot of pride in this.”
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org