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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.

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“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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Fairborn council approves plan for new primary school

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 7:30 PM

            A rendering of the proposed Fairborn Primary School. CONTRIBUTED
A rendering of the proposed Fairborn Primary School. CONTRIBUTED

The Fairborn City Council on Monday evening approved plans for a new primary school, inching the project toward its June 1 groundbreaking.

The proposed 132,000-square-foot primary school will be two stories with a staff of 110 employees and will accommodate 1,214 students, according to planning documents.

“It’s a long time coming and we’re all excited about it,” said Councilwoman Donna Wilson.

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The school building, for pre-kindergarten through second grade, will be constructed on the playground of the current school, 4 E. Dayton Yellow Springs Road.

“This is a long project,” said Kathleen Riggs, the city planner. “It involves the rebuilding of two schools.”

The schools have set a timeline for the new construction over the next four years:

• Summer 2018 to summer 2020: Site preparation and construction of the new school. Students will remain in existing primary school

• Fall 2020: Students move into new primary school

• Fall 2020 to spring 2022: Intermediate students move into old primary school

• Summer 2022: Demolition of old primary school and completion of the new primary school site

• Fall 2022: Intermediate school students move into new school on Maple Avenue.

The measure passed 5-0. Councilmen Terry Burkert and Tim Steininger abstained because they are Fairborn City Schools employees.

Voters approved funding construction of new primary and intermediate school buildings at the ballot box in November when a 2.95-mil bond levy passed with nearly 60 percent, according to election night results.

Groundbreaking will take place at Fairborn Primary School, 9:30 a.m., June 1. The ceremony will be located on the playground west of the building. Parking is available on the west side of the building. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the school district auditorium at Fairborn High School.

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Rain delays force Lakota track star to miss graduation. Here’s the surprise he got today.

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 1:30 PM

Lakota East High School track star Dustin Horter missed his graduation due to rain delays at state meet, but school officials moved fast to fix that.

Dustin Horter watched his dreams of graduating with his Lakota East High School classmates wash away last Friday in a series of rain delays at his state-qualifying track meet.

MORE: 1st-year superintendent has more changes planned for Lakota

A half-dozen downpours kept the track state champion — and one of the most honored student athletes in Lakota East’s history — from finishing his runs and then heading to his class’ commencement ceremony at the Cintas Center at Xavier University.

Friday evening after his track meet finally finished late he learned — via a text message from school officials — that he had missed the once-in-a-lifetime event.

But over the weekend Lakota officials hatched a plan, dashing together to put on a special Monday morning graduation ceremony just for Horter as part of the school’s annual parade honoring track and other spring sports teams qualifying for state tournaments.

MORE: Lakota East’s Dustin Horter to represent Team USA

School officials scrambled to assemble a stage and podium, unpacked their ceremonial graduation gowns and as thousands of cheering Lakota students lined the school’s “main street” hallway, Horter was given his own, personal graduation ceremony complete with music and confetti.

“I honestly didn’t expect to go this big with setting up a stage and put it on Main Street,” said a wide-eyed and grateful Horter, who is both a national and state champion in track.

“To have the whole student population here witnessing it was pretty darn cool,” said Horter.

Lakota wanted to make sure it was special to reflect Horter’s extraordinary career at the Liberty Twp. high school.

He is a five-time state champion in track and the district’s record holder for the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter events.

And as of May 11, Horter holds the fastest one mile time in the country at 4:04 minutes and the fastest 3200 meter time in the nation at 8:48 minutes.

MORE: Middletown graduation moves after parents shut out of last year’s ceremony

But the true measure of Horter’s high school career for the Lakota Thunderhawks can’t only be measured by a stop watch.

Earlier this school year he was selected for the prestigious Thunderhawk of the Year.

Lakota East Principal Suzanna Davis said Horter was a natural choice because the award is voted on by faculty and staff at Lakota East to determine the recipient of this award.

“The Thunderhawk of the Year recognizes a well-rounded student who is actively involved in daily life at East. They epitomize what it means to be a Thunderhawk. Quite simply, they are Lakota East,” said Davis.

MORE: 2 fallen Monroe students, including victim of prom night car crash, honored during graduation

“On Friday night, Dustin was running to qualify for regional champions and, unfortunately due to weather delays, he was unable to make it to the graduation ceremony,” she said. “It is our honor and pleasure to be able to present Dustin with his diploma in front of his family, friends and Lakota East family.”

“His mark will forever be felt at Lakota East High School,” said Davis.

Horter said “everybody kind of re-enacting everything was definitely special and definitely something I won’t forget.”

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After two decades with his district, this area superintendent is retiring. Here’s his story.

Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 12:37 PM

            Eric Herman, retiring superintendent of the Troy City Schools, said students’ needs haven’t change over the years.
Eric Herman, retiring superintendent of the Troy City Schools, said students’ needs haven’t change over the years.

Eric Herman has seen a lot of changes in his nearly 38 years in education, but he said one thing hasn’t changed: the kids.

Herman, who graduated from high school in West Carrollton, will retire this summer after 20 years with the Troy City Schools. He has been superintendent since spring 2011.

Herman attended college, played football and coached football in Kansas before returning home in the early 1980s to operate a print shop in West Carrollton.

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He had that business about eight years and was coaching when he was lured back into education by a former coach and educator Dean Pond, who asked him to teach driver’s education at West Carrollton.

That led to a football coach and physical education teaching job in Kettering, a year at Urbana schools and then a return to Kettering for an administration job as a unit principal.

Another former West Carrollton coach, David Dolph, introduced Herman to Troy schools as assistant junior high principal in 1998.

“I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Dolph and said, ‘Why not?’” he recalled.

Herman served as principal at Hook Elementary, junior high principal, high school principal, director of secondary curriculum, director of technology, director of K-12 curriculum and assistant superintendent under Superintendent Tom Dunn on his path to becoming superintendent.

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“This was the last place I thought I would have ended my career,” Herman said from the superintendent’s office at the Board of Education next to Troy High School.

He said the elementary school job was “a blast” and he liked being high school principal because he was around the students a lot.

“I got back into education to be around the kids,” he said. “I still believe kids are the same as when we were kids. They still want structure and discipline and want someone to care about them.”

Mark Barhorst, district business manager/director of human resources, praised Herman’s efforts during the Board of Education’s recognition of retirees at its May meeting.

“He’s worn a lot of hats and done a lot of things for the school district,” Barhorst said. “When I began the thought process of interviewing for a job here, I talked to Marion Stout. She told me Troy was the best school district in the state of Ohio. I would have to say a big part of that has been Eric Herman.”

The Board of Education hired Chris Piper, from Triad Local Schools, as the new superintendent this spring. Herman had the following advice for his successor: “Take time to learn the job. Don’t be quick to change a lot until you see how it operates. Every school is different.”

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‘Rookie year’ for Middletown Schools superintendent shows wins, losses

Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Middletown City Schools leader Marlon Styles Jr. reviews his first year at the helm of the district.

For the former high school baseball coach who is now Middletown’s school leader, school years are like sports seasons and his rookie stint as superintendent wasn’t great but overall had more wins than losses.

That’s solid progress when talking about Middletown Schools, which has a troubled past of only sporadic academic success in recent years.

But as the school year comes to a close this month, first-year Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. looks back on a district-wide revitalization he started in August and credits school staffers with pushing it forward.

MORE: Meet the new Middletown Schools Superintendent

The 39-year-old Styles launched the “Middie Modernization Movement” within days of taking his first superintendent’s job as head of the Butler County city school system. The new mantra has proven popular beyond school campuses, having energized community and business sector support for the district.

But turning around one of Southwest Ohio’s lowest performing school districts — and its 6,300 students — doesn’t happen in a single school season, said Styles.

“We had a good rookie season but definitely not rookie of the year,” said Styles, a former top official with Lakota Local Schools who used to coach baseball for Northwest High School in Hamilton County.

MORE: Middletown school leader wins national honor for digital learning

“But the rookie season we’ve had has been successful because of the amount of support we have received as a district both internally — from all our stakeholders — and our school and business community,” said Styles. “The city has been phenomenal in how they have supported everything we have done this year for our school kids.”

Those include sweeping and historic reforms in how Middletown approaches teaching and learning. More than a slogan, the modernization of the district under Styles’ leadership is fueled by increased attention to student data and academic performance.

The district is also undergoing a historical, $96 million physical transformation for students in grades 7-12 as construction wraps up on a new 135,000-square-foot middle school — adjacent to a renovated Middletown High School.

MORE: See video of drone flyover of new Middletown School construction

When classes open Sept. 4 for all schools, the Middletown Middle School will feature one of the most innovative learning spaces in the region, with grade-specific building wings and common learning areas between classrooms.

The annual Ohio Department of Education report cards on public school districts is scheduled to be released in early fall. Regardless of how Middletown Schools performed during the current school year — in recent years the district has been among the lowest scorers in the region — a foundation immeasurable by standardized student testing has been laid, said Styles.

There has been a “contagious belief across the organization that we can do it … and we can do it together.”

The Middie Modernization Movement, said Styles, “has provided us clarity, it has provided us direction, it’s motivated us and it has kept us focused on our priorities,” which includes having each high school graduate well-versed in academic training for college or trade school or immediate, work-place employment.

Middletown Board of Education President Chris Urso describes Styles at the end of his initial school year as “everything as advertised.”

“He is exciting and dynamic, and as a district we are in a good place. He has a good balance and he does well looking at data … but at the same time having the relationship and people building skills that people like to connect to,” said Urso.

“We have noticed that with our staff, people are getting inspired,” he said. “It’s been dramatic.”

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