More than 2,500 braved a frigid night Thursday to rally and visit at Middletown’s first, district-wide open house that included a little bit of Hollywood and a lot of energy.
The unique event also attracted city officials and community leaders who did everything from lead a cheering crowd in Middletown High School’s Wade E. Miller Arena to reading children’s books to youngsters at the adjacent middle school.
It was a new and grand-scale approach to community outreach on a never-before-scene scale by the city’s school system.
“Tonight we want you to catch the fever,” said Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. from center court in the arena packed full of Middie purple-clad school parents, residents, students and school staffers.
“We love our Middie families. Now is the time to believe that we will graduate successful students. We have an opportunity in front of us. Every single student in here will be successful,” Styles shouted pacing with microphone in hand.
Joining Styles on court in exhorting the crowd to embrace the district’s theme of “Middie Rising” was Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins, who ran through a list of progress in the Butler County city in recent years.
“When Marlon took over as superintendent (2017) one of the things we started talking about so often is that the city and the school district are combined in a way that when one goes up, the other goes up. We rise or fall together,” said Adkins.
“It’s a realization. It’s recognition. It’s a commitment,” he said to applause.
The short rally, which included a Hollywood-style movie on the arena’s jumbo TV screens featuring students, ended with everyone encouraged to wander through the newly renovated high school and new, adjacent middle school, both of which opened in September.
Each of the district’s schools had informational and demonstration stations spread through the two buildings. School families could see students of all ages show off their class projects ranging from robotics, video digital projects to manufacturing and performing arts.
Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw, who joined City Mayor Larry Mulligan, in reading to youngsters sitting on long couches in one of the middle school’s spacious, carpeted learning pod areas, said the new learning spaces were a vast improvement.
“It’s amazing. The open spaces are crazy,” said Muterspaw.
School parent Kandi Barnes was also impressed by the event.
“I loved it and it brought a lot of spirit back to Middletown,” said school parent Kandi Barnes.
“I have a deep history in this city. When we chose to move to Middletown is was because of the diversity and because we believe in the Middie Magic,” she said.