The renovation of the former Springfield High School and South High School building kicked off Friday afternoon with a standing-room-only re-dedication ceremony.
About 200 people gathered inside the Clifton Avenue entrance for brief comments by local leaders before taking tours of the historic building.
“Today we bring back Springfield High, Springfield South as a beacon of hope in this community,” said Springfield City Schools Superintendent David Estrop.
All the speakers expressed their excitement that the building will be back in use next fall after many years of discussion about its future.
Mayor Warren Copeland donned bright yellow shirts with the words, “Remember the Dome: 1911-2008.”
“When I purchased this shirt I had a fear that I’d be remembering something that wasn’t here anymore,” he said.
The school will undergo mostly internal renovations over the next year, thanks to an $11.3 million Ohio Straight A Grant. It will be the new home of the Global Impact STEM Academy, currently beginning its second year of operation at Clark State Community College, and of the Greater Springfield CareerConnectED Center.
The center will be a partnership between SCSD, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center, Clark-Shawnee Local Schools and GISA, providing training for staff and students from all districts to better prepare students for college and careers.
Clark State will also use some of the renovated space for a food and bio-science center.
“I’m an educator and I wanted it to be used for education,” said Linda Sandoval, class of 1967. “I’m so glad they didn’t tear it down.”
Former students and staff were given the opportunity to share and preserve their memories of the school through an oral history project.
Sandoval recalled her time as an undefeated gymnast, while Carolyn Pyles, class of ‘54, said the memories that stood out the most where her time as a majorette with the marching band.
Some like Ron-Dia Kendall, whose mother was a custodian at the school and who is now a para-professional with the city school district, remembered some of the oddities associated with going to school in a massive old building that had undergone numerous remodels.
“The layout … getting from the gym to science on the other side on the third floor here was a nightmare,” she said.
Some people brought their children to show off their old stomping grounds.
“My kids have never been here, so I’m excited to show them,” said Amy Byrum, class of ‘95. She especially wanted to see the auditorium where she was involved with theater productions.
Tours included stops in the 1933 Tiffany Gym, the music rooms, industrial arts labs, auditorium and the library, the later which included views of the building’s iconic glass dome.
“The dome, the ‘hole,’ ” Byrum said, referring to the multi-story atrium beneath the current library. “That was our meeting place. ‘Meet me at the hole.’ ”
The building served as Springfield High School from 1911-60, when students were split into two schools. It was home to Springfield South High School until 2008, when all students were reunited under one roof at the new Springfield High on Home Road.
Additional guided tours of the school will be available Sunday from 2-4 p.m.