There’s much more to Middletown’s new arena, and it can help all students

Published: Friday, February 02, 2018 @ 6:30 AM

A new workout center at Middletown HS is open to all students not just athletes.

The new Wade E. Miller Arena at Middletown High School is more than a sports showcase.

The recently opened arena complex also offers a modern, high-tech “performance center,” not just for Middletown athletes but also for use by every student who takes physical education classes in the Butler County school.

MORE: New Middletown arena is showcase for the city

Enclosed on two sides by large windows and offering views into the Miller Arena, the new workout center has both energetic and colorful design – with lots of Middletown Middie purple of course – and new exercise equipment options.

MORE: Hollywood style movie trailer on new Middletown High School arena opening

“When I first saw this place I was absolutely blown away,” said senior Sean Ramsey, during a recent physical education class in the center.

“With our facilities before and then upgrading to something like this, it’s just absolutely unbelievable. We were used to all these extremely old facilities with extremely old equipment and then upgrading to all this brand new equipment, in a collegiate-level training facility,” said Ramsey.

Miller Arena, which opened in December, features two professional-style baskets on Jerry Lucas Court, four 9-foot by 12-foot LED scoreboards, bright lights, a high-quality sound system, a walking track, a wrestling room, a strength center, athletic offices, trophy cases and an attached community room.

The arena is just part of the improvements and building taking place on school system’s Breiel Boulevard campus.

Middletown High School, which opened in 1969, is being renovated as part of a $96 million project that includes a new Middletown Middle School being built next to the high school.

MORE: Middletown Schools are in historic construction phase

Middletown junior Hannah Harig said “it’s really incredible to see it in our high school and to see all the new equipment and things that everyone can use.”

Aaron Zupka, Middletown Schools’ athletic director, said the inclusive mission of the performance center is key to its future success.

“This is an amazing, state-of-the-art facility but it’s not just for athletics,” said Zupka.

“Our physical education students are here working out … there are some great opportunities for them. There is nothing nicer out there (for area students),” he said.

“There are a lot of different resources and tools for them to use and it’s a great for our PE teachers to come in here and to make part of their curriculum,” he said. “Keeping healthy kids means more production in the classroom.”

VIDEO: See students using the new Middletown High School athletic performance center

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3 alleged threats and lockdowns add to tense week for schools in Butler County

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 4:14 PM

Kings Schools are 1 of a few area districts using an anti-shooter device to keep students safer in classrooms.

Just days after a horrific mass school shooting in Florida, three Butler County school systems faced their own threats of violence.

A Hamilton High School student was arrested Thursday for an alleged social media threat, and a Middletown High School student was questioned by city police Friday after allegedly fighting with another student and then, according to fellow students, saying he would go home and return with a gun. Multiple Middletown schools went on lockdown after the report of the threat on Friday.

On Thursday, a Ross High School student, who allegedly posted on social media he could “beat” the casualty toll of the shootings at the Florida high school, which left 17 dead, was arrested and remains in custody. That Ross teen now faces felony charges of inducing panic.

MORE: Hamilton student arrested for threat

MORE: Middletown High School questioned by police after threat

MORE: Ross High School student arrested and jailed after threat

The alleged threats were part of an extraordinarily tense week of school security concerns as the nation remains shaken by the Parkland, Fla. school killings.

“We take all threats seriously and will continue to work together with the Hamilton Police Department to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” Hamilton High School Principal John Wilhelm said in a statement.

“Simply put, we will show zero tolerance for any threatening behavior.”

The scene outside of Middletown High School was emotionally tense after the threat became known to school parents, who were alerted by their children ordered to stay in their classrooms during Friday’s lockdown.

Police rushed to the school and closed down the school’s doors, keeping anyone from leaving or coming in, said Middletown Police Major Scott Reeve.

Reeve said parents were “very sensitive” about concerns of deadly school violence after a former student gunned down students and staff members at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones predicted on Thursday the school shooting would produce “copy cats” during a Facebook video he posted.

MORE: Butler County Sheriff calls for armed guards in schools 

Jones also renewed his call from years ago, lobbying Butler County school officials to allow armed personnel – perhaps retired military veterans or retired police officers – to patrol local schools to deter attacks.

In Warren County, the Kings Schools has been a leader in school security measures by using a simple metal device currently employed by only a handful of southwest Ohio school systems. Portable door wedges that secure heavy classroom doors from being pushed or blasted by gunfire into opening hang by each classroom in the 4,500-student, suburban district in Deerfield Township.

Kings Schools is one of only a handful in Southwest Ohio to use door security devices designed to be installed during active shooter attacks. The Warren County district made the devices available to all its classrooms in 2014.(Staff Writer)

Dubbed “Bearacades” and made by an Ohio company of the same name, the door stop, which is quickly and easily secured by a sturdy metal pin inserted into a hole drilled into a school’s cement under flooring, transforms classrooms into safer havens from active shooters loose in a school building, officials said.

“The Bearacade gives us that tool and that option to make sure we can lock down and keep our kids safe, and it’s going to buy us a lot of time to get those (police) authorities here to help us against an armed, active shooter,” said Dustin Goldie, a veteran Kings High School teacher.

But, said Bill Cushwa, Founder/CEO of Bearacade, “there is no magic solution. Bearacade units are one added layer of safety.”

“Getting out and away is always the ideal situation. That is why all response protocols lead with run, avoid or get out,” said Cushwa. “But, as demonstrated in Florida, if there isn’t enough information, the way out is too dangerous, or you are on an upper floor, locking and blocking the entry into your space is the next best option.”

Kings senior Chris Lane said he and his classmates – many of whom are trained in how to install the door devices - appreciate the school district’s extra security efforts.

“It (door device) is really appreciated around here, especially after what happened (in Florida) because it shows us that the teachers want to keep us safe,” said Lane.

Staff Writers Rick McCrabb and Wayne Baker contributed to this story

VIDEO: See an active shooter drill where a Kings teacher uses a special security door device

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Wright State faculty angered by planned cuts; ‘terrible decisions’ loom

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 1:52 PM

            Wright State University
Wright State University

Wright State University’s Board of Trustees voted 7-1 to enact a mandatory furlough policy Friday, even as frustrated professors confronted the university’s leaders about proposed “draconian” cuts they say will erode the institution’s educational quality.

Wright State faces declining enrollment and higher health care costs while it grapples with the outlines of millions of dollars in cuts to avoid deficit spending and being put on a state fiscal watch, officials said.

“We must continue to be realists together while we maintain our passion for this university,” Douglas A. Fecher, chairman of the Board of Trustees, told dozens of faculty members and others gathered for the board meeting Friday. “We simply do not have access to the same level of resources that we once had in the past.”

RELATED: Wright State budget forum becomes negotiating table for faculty union

Fecher said ignoring the economic situation will not make it go away.

“It will demand more hard choices and hard sacrifice,” he said. “Terrible decisions remain and they must be made.”

Last June, Wright State cut nearly $31 million out of its fiscal year 2018 budget in response to years of overspending, and to raise its reserve fund to $6 million. WSU needs to cut an additional $10.5 million because of enrollment issues, and to cover additional scholarship and fellowship costs, this newspaper has reported.

Members of the American Association of University Professors and faculty members rallied against the cuts Friday, saying they have diminished Wright State’s core mission of education by reducing instructors and classes and creating uncertainty and anxiety among faculty, staff and students.

Senate Faculty President Travis E. Doom told the board he and other faculty members have had questions from students about whether they would be able to complete their degree programs and how the cuts would impact their studies.

“This term, the university remarked in a prepared statement that there is no chance that Wright State University is going to close,” he said. “The fact that the university felt the need to make this statement is chilling. The fact that our community thought this was newsworthy is horrifying.”

The AAUP has said the administration has offered a three-year contract with no raises, reduced benefits and higher health care costs amounting to a pay cut.

Nearly 90 percent of AAUP members eligible to vote have voted yes on a strike authorization if a deal is not reached, according to the union. Unresolved bargaining issues include employment security and furloughs, teaching workloads, maintaining summer teaching opportunities, and proposals that would cut pay and health benefits, the labor organization says.

RELATED: Wright State considering employee furloughs if finances don’t improve

Dan Slilaty, a WSU mathematics professor and AAUP member, said Wright State had gone on a “budget-cutting spree” that protects administration and trustee priorities and “slashes” the university’s core mission.

He said about 580 faculty members who teach at the university account for about 17 percent of its budget.

“What we the faculty demand is that all future cuts to the university’s budget be made in the irresponsible, multi-million dollar athletic budget and the extreme salaries and bloat of the upper administration and in risky side ventures,” he said to audience applause.

“If a strike is the only way in which meaningful shared governance is going to happen, if a strike is the only way to stop this reckless disregard for the core mission of the university, then I will vote for a strike, and I believe my colleagues will as well,” he added.

Wright State has made no decision on furloughing employees, but the policy enacted Friday allows the university to impose unpaid days off work for non-union employees should they become necessary.

Any furloughs of AAUP members would have to be contractually negotiated, said Marty Kich, president of the Wright State chapter of the labor organization.

The university and the AAUP are headed to fact-finding in April, he said.

RELATED: Wright State swimming, diving supporters hire consultant to try to save teams Wright State Trustee Bruce Langos, the sole no vote on enacting the policy on mandatory furloughs, said non-bargaining unit support staff have taken enough cuts.

He added the university should spend more time finding new revenue sources.

“I think we have a high probability that we’re going to end up on fiscal watch and we need to make sure that we’re focused on that revenue growth,” he said in an interview. “We can’t put the entire problem on the backs of the employees. We need to be generating revenue.”

David M. Butkovinsky, a long-time WSU accounting professor and AAUP member, told trustees the cuts would hurt both students’ education and the retention and recruitment of faculty.

“The majority of the faculty believes the administration is using the threat of fiscal watch as a convenient excuse to reduce faculty compensation even though by the administration’s own admission, that threat has passed,” he said.

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UPDATE: Lockdown lifted on Middletown schools after reported threat during fight

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 1:47 PM

Middletown High School was placed on lockdown on Friday after student allegedly made threat

UPDATE @ 2:05 p.m.

Lockdowns at four Middletown Schools are now lifted by school officials, and a student is being questioned by police.

According to Middletown Police a fight at Middletown High School led one male student to say he would go home and return with a gun.

FROM THURSDAY: Snapchat post that he could ‘beat’ Florida shootings caused Ross student to be charged

That alleged comment was reported by students to school officials, who immediately informed police who rushed to the school.

Police then closed down the school’s doors, keeping anyone from leaving or coming in, said Middletown Police Major Scott Reeve.

Some school parents rushed to the school and were distraught in the Middletown High School parking lot because they could not enter the building to pick up their children.

Reeve said parents were “very sensitive” about concerns of deadly school violence in the wake of this week’s mass shooting at a Florida High School that left 17 dead.

Once the lockdown was lifted at 1:45 p.m., several parents took their children out of the school and drove off.

School officials said the investigation into the threat is continuing.


Middletown High School and three elementaries are on lockdowns after students at the high school reported a threat of violence.

There is no active shooter, weapons or injuries reported at any of the schools, though Elizabeth Beadle, spokeswoman for the city schools, said school and police are continuing to investigate the threat.

Beadle declined to detail the nature of the threat made to the four Middletown schools. She said the threat was not made via social media.

The high school is on a “hard lockdown,” which means students and staff are ordered to stay in classrooms and other school areas until released by authorities.

The three Middletown elementaries - Creekview, Wildwood and Mayfield - are on “soft lockdowns,” which allow students and staff to continue their regular school day activities inside the building, but they are prohibited from leaving the school building.

In a alert posted on the Middletown Schools webpage, officials stated “this message is to inform you that at approximately 12:20 PM today, the Middletown High School received a tip that an individual threatened an act of violence against the school. The Middletown High School went on a lock down and Local Law Enforcement officials were notified immediately.”

“We implemented our crisis response plan, which places the highest priority on the health and safety of our staff, students, and community. Everyone responded quickly and followed prescribed police and school safety procedures. We are still on a lock down at this time. We will update with more details.”

This news organization will report more as information becomes available.

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You should see this pioneering local principal at work. If you can catch him.

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 5:22 PM

Lakota?€™s 1st black HS principal is a man in constant motion.

Blink fast if you want to see Lakota West High School’s leader in action.

Principal Elgin Card’s work day at one of Southwest Ohio’s largest high schools is a case study in perpetual motion focused by purpose.

Card has led Lakota West since 2012 – taking over for his mentor, long-time Lakota veteran Dick Hamilton who retired – and he is also an historical first for the Butler County school system.

MORE: Long-time Lakota principal earns hall dedication

Card didn’t - and still doesn’t - make a big deal about being the first African-American high school principal in Lakota’s 62-year-history.

“With it being Black History Month … people will talk to me from time to time about being a role model and being the first black high school principal,” said Card, 48, recently as he took a rare break from his hectic, daily schedule.

MORE: Lakota West gets Scandinavian make over

“For me I’m very lucky and blessed and I want to be a role model for African-American students but more importantly I feel like I’m a role model for everybody. I want to make sure that from the things I do — not only from my words but my actions — that kids understand that and the kids follow. It’s very important to lead by example and that’s what I try to do.”

A typical class bell break finds the former college football star forming a friendly, one-man wedge parting the crowd of students moving through Lakota West’s expansive main hall.

The school is one of the largest in Ohio with an enrollment of 2,200 students.

MORE: Butler County is home to some of state’s largest high schools

Card exchanges hellos, fist bumps, high fives, and encouragement while launching a barrage of “how’s it going?” and personal questions that show not only a remarkable memory but a caring attitude.

“How’d you do on that project?”

“Are things better?”

“Didn’t I tell you, you’d make it?”

The banter includes an occasional admonishment. When asked, one student who violated school policy complained, “you got me suspended.”

Card’s quick retort: “You got yourself suspended.”

“Relationships are so important and that’s what I base it (leadership) on. If kids know you care about them, they will do what you ask them to do and they will work even harder for you,” Card said.

Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller is halfway through his first year as leader of the 16,500-student district, but being a veteran of Ohio public education, he knows what he sees and likes in Card’s leadership.

“He has a unique style that helps to create a personal connection with his students and staff, building relationships with each and promoting diversity and inclusion throughout the school,” Miller said.

“He is an incredibly dedicated leader, creating a community that encourages both staff and students to work hard in an effort to achieve their best, both academically and personally.”

VIDEO: See Lakota West High School Principal Elgin Card and his fast-paced style of leadership

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