COLUMBUS — Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday morning lauded an alliance between Columbus Public Schools, business and industry forged over the past five years for unlocking the “golden door” of education to the community’s next generation of students.
“This partnership will show the transformative power of education (in shaping young lives),” the governor said while standing at a podium in the new Columbus High entryway before an overflow crowd during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Monday was the first day of school at the new CHS, located south of Lost Creek Parkway along 33rd Avenue.
The ceremony, culminated by Principal Steve Woodside using a plasma cutter to slice through a metal design created by manufacturing teacher Tracy Dodson, drew a throng of adult visitors and students.
“This community has really come together to build a better future,” said Ricketts, noting the contributions of business and industry while citing Becton Dickinson, Archer Daniels Midland, Behlen Mfg. Co., Cargill and Duo Lift Manufacturing for helping drive the community’s economic landscape.
Companies like these, Ricketts said, provide tremendous career opportunities for the students of tomorrow.
“Thank you very much,” the governor said to the crowd of onlookers, “for all that you have done to make this possible.”
Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley told the crowd CPS officials, including Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz, past and present school board members, administrators, staff and bond committee members, went about building a coalition of support for the new $52 million school the right way.
They reached out to the public, listened to what they heard and later created school building plans that could be tweaked, plans the public could buy into, Bulkley said.
The mayor said it’s been amazing over the last 2 1/2 years driving by and watching the school site go from a cornfield to a 270,000-square-foot high school.
“This school is a new jewel in the community of Columbus, one that will shine for years to come,” Bulkley said. “Great job.”
Loeffelholz served as the master of ceremonies for Monday’s event, which also included remarks from CPS Board President Theresa Seipel, Bond Chairman Toby Goc, students Luke Bogus and Alyssa Hartman, CPS Foundation Executive Director Kim Kwapnioski, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President K.C. Belitz and Woodside.
Following the ceremony, the public was allowed to tour the building. Evening tours were held from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
CHS junior Maddie Luebe and sophomore Anna Maurer got an early peek at the new high school when walking down spacious corridors.
The teens, members of CHS 101, were giving directions to visitors, answering questions and handing out brochures about the new school.
“It’ll be very different, like you’re a freshman all over again,” said Luebe, looking back on the transition from middle to high school.
“It’s going to seem like a new start, getting used to a new building,” said Maurer, smiling while adding that a new class schedule is also set to get underway in the fall.
The increased size of the new CHS means longer walks between classes, but also allows spaces featuring tables and seating designed for comfort for students looking to find a quiet place to catch up on studies.
The furniture has more of a college feel, which is what school officials were looking to create.
“I’m a little worried about making it to class on time,” Luebe joked. “We’ll get our exercise."