Middletown Schools, city leaders rally teachers for new school year

It was equal parts pep rally, theatre and spectacle today as Middletown City Schools conducted a raucous event on a grand scale prior to the start of the new school year.

More than 600 school staffers — clad in matching Middie purple T-shirts — were joined by Middletown city, business and community leaders, students and hundreds of city residents — as well as representatives of the city’s police and fire departments — all cheering and filling Wade E. Miller Arena with a positive vibe.

Led by second-year Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr., the first-time event — held in the arena that just opened in December — reflected a renewed vigor school leaders hope will continue when classes start Tuesday and last through the new school year.

“Look at the energy and excitement in this room,” Styles said. “We are on the rise because of all of you. Let’s keep it up.”

The 6,300-student city school district already has much to celebrate.

This Saturday will see a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting followed by public tours until noon of the largest and most expensive construction project in Middletown City Schools history as the doors open on a new Middletown Middle School and a renovated and expanded Middletown High School.

The $96 million transformation of the old high school campus has been two years in the making.

Last year, as Styles started his leadership, he launched sweeping reforms in the school system, which consistently has scored among the lowest academically in Southwest Ohio.

Those include historic changes in how Middletown approaches teaching and learning.

Styles led the charge for sharp improvements in academic areas for some schools and challenged not only the district employees but also the city to “pivot” toward even more success.

Improvements, Styles told the crowd “didn’t happen by accident. It’s intentional because of all the hard work, time, energy and effort of everybody standing in this arena who are making our students succeed.”

At one point in the event, the superintendent invited all district’s teachers and other staffers to join him on arena floor, clapping and cheering as music played reinforcing the theme of togetherness toward one mission.

Styles also handed off the microphone to Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins, who praised the superintendent as “energetic and charismatic.”

Adkins gave the crowd a quick history of the once bustling city’s storied past business and sports glory days in the 1950s and 1960s, adding that Middletown doesn’t have to learn how to be great because it’s been there before and knows the way.

“The ground work has been laid. The city. The school district. We are one,” Adkins told the crowd. “We live, we die, we flounder, we flourish — we do it together.”

Middletown Board of Education President Chris Urso marveled at the event and the enthusiasm it generated.

“Marlon was able to capture the spirit of our community and our schools,” said Urso.

“Our staff are ready and I think our kids are excited and it’s a good day to be in Middletown,” he said.

Due to the construction project, Middletown is the last of Butler County’s 10 public school systems to start classes for the 2018-2019 school year.

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