It was an opening of a historic new chapter Tuesday morning in Fairfield City Schools as students began classes for the first time in three new school buildings.
Thousands of students poured into the Butler County city school system’s new Freshman School and two new elementaries — Central and Compass — all part of an $80 million construction project years in the making.
In all, 10,000 students started classes and school officials said the first part of the first day went off without any significant problems.
The opening school day excitement had youngsters in Central Elementary — and their parents — wide-eyed with excitement.
Fairfield school parent Amber Shope had two children attend the antiquated former Central Elementary building, which opened in 1929 and was demolished this summer.
Neither she nor her children miss it.
“They are very excited and had trouble falling asleep last night,” said Shope after dropping her children off at the new Central Elementary.
“They were pretty much running into the new building. They love the new building,” she said. “It is a major change compared to the old Central. It is a major upgrade and the rooms are a lot bigger.”
Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith said it was a special kind of first day of classes for students, parents and all city residents.
“Our community could not be more excited. They have been waiting for today all summer long,” said Smith.
And longer when it comes to construction — two years — and a decade in planning, said Fairfield Board of Education Vice President Michael Berding as he greeted students.
“It’s a whole new learning environment and we’re excited for the kids,” said Berding.
While the district is now one of the few in the history of Southwest Ohio school systems to simultaneously open three new schools — Hamilton Schools did the same about a decade ago — the new buildings are just part of the sweeping changes for the city schools.
The district’s 10 schools have also changed grades offered in buildings, which impacts thousands of other students.
And the public will get a chance to see what their tax money bought — they approved a school tax hike in 2014 for the new schools — at dedication ceremonies and tours being offered this weekend.
Dedication ceremonies — with public tours to follow — at each school will take place Saturday at:
- 9 a.m. at the Freshman School, 8790 North Gilmore Road
- 11:30 a.m. at Compass Elementary, 8801 Holden Blvd.
- 1 p.m. at Central Elementary, 5054 Dixie Highway
Inside the new Fairfield Freshman School, Makylah Taylor, was seeing her new building for the first time and was thrilled.
“I like how our classrooms are spread out by hallways and wings,” she said of the airy, expansively designed school featuring multi-story wings of classes.
“It’s really pretty and I really love the colors,” said Taylor as she paused before making her way to her first class.