UNION TOWNSHIP (CLERMONT COUNTY), Ohio -- High schoolers in West Clermont Local School District will begin their first year in one building Aug. 30, but they’ve already been bonding.
Until now, the district’s high school students were split between two buildings at Glen Este and Amelia high schools. West Clermont High School will bring all those pupils under one roof at the corner of Clough Pike and Bach-Buxton Road in Union Township.
Last-minute painting and landscaping are wrapping up, but the new 370,000 square-foot building is otherwise ready for the start of the school year.
“We’ll be ready when students show up, and we’re excited to see their reaction,” said Scott Spicher, communications director for West Clermont Local Schools.
High school staff and district officials got a preview of students’ and parents’ reactions during open house events last week.
“There’s no doubt the community’s excited,” Spicher said.
The open house events provided an opportunity for students to get to know the building, which features interactive projectors and white boards, an eight-lane pool and a 1,000-seat auditorium.
It also gave students a chance to meet future teachers and classmates.
“Obviously, this is going to be a very challenging position as far as combining two rival schools,” said West Clermont High School Principal Randy Gebhardt. Gone are the Amelia Barons and Glen Este Trojans; born is the Wolfpack.
Meeting the demand for extracurricular groups and teams has been one of the biggest challenges. Where previously there were two of everything -- from varsity teams to cheerleading squads -- there now is only one.
“You’re going to have twice as many students competing for the same positions,” Gebhardt said.
Despite the increased competition, students from the two schools have been bonding with the help of coordinated events, extracurricular practices, open house events and “transition teams.” One transition team comprised of students and one made up of staff from the two schools met with Superintendent Keith Kline last school year to exchange input about the new school.
Students aren’t the only people affected by narrowed opportunities at the high school. Combining the schools also meant going from two administrative teams to one. Joining the district after 15 years at Waynesville High School, Gebhardt was instrumental in establishing that team.
“He’s done a really great job of putting an administrative team together,” Spicher said.
That team includes two assistant principals from the former Amelia campus. The new building draws most of its staff from Amelia and Glen Este as well.
The district’s middle schools, which were located on the respective high school campuses, also are combining. Sixth- through eighth-grade students now will attend West Clermont Middle School in a retrofitted building at the site of the former Amelia middle and high school campus.
As part of a tax increment financing agreement between the district and Union Township, the township will take ownership of the Glen Este property and redevelop it.
School is set to begin Aug. 30 for all West Clermont students.
“We just want to get students in the classroom and get moving forward,” Gebhardt said.