Oak Ridge breaks ground for new school buildings

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

OAK RIDGE, Mo. -- Judy Sharp's band room at Oak Ridge High School is packed so full of students and instruments that if a student in the back row needs help, Sharp has to practically climb over the others to get to him.

But, she said, after teaching in the cramped, 28-year-old room for 21 years, next year she will be able to move around with ease thanks to school district voters.

The community passed a bond issue in April allowing the Oak Ridge School District to build its first middle school to house grades six, seven and eight, which currently are split between the elementary and high schools. It will include a multipurpose building complete with a large band room.

"It's about time," Sharp said. "I'm just thrilled about the new multipurpose building."

School board members, teachers and students tried to dig in Monday and break ground for the new building, but had little luck in the hard dirt.

"Don't worry," superintendent Cheri Fuemmeler said. "The heavy equipment will be out tomorrow."

The multipurpose building will be adjacent to the high school, and the middle school will be directly behind it.

School board president Steve Schonhoff said the board realized over a year ago that enrollment was on the rise and they were running out of room. Last year parents and administrators formed the Our Children: Our Future Committee to look at needs of the district and come up with a solution.

They came up with the plan, but it wasn't cheap.

The board placed a $1.95 million bond issue and 30-cent levy increase on the April ballot to make the project possible. The measure received 62.41 percent of the vote.

"Our school district has been here since 1874," Schonhoff said. "It's the oldest district in the state and we pride ourselves in that. We want to continue that tradition."

Ethan Kester, 10, who will be a sixth-grader at the middle school next fall, said he is excited to move to the new building. "The new school will be a lot of fun because we'll have more room to work on projects," Kester said.

Kester said he is also looking forward to playing sports like dodge ball in the multipurpose building, which will hold a few classrooms, computer lab, locker rooms and gymnasium.

High school principal Paul Lynch will assume the position of middle school principal in addition to his current duties when the new school opens.

"The biggest benefit to students and teachers is there will be more room and more opportunity for extracurricular activities," Lynch said.

He said teachers and administrators are excited about the transition, which he expects to go smoothly.


335-6611, extension 128

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