Ridgewood School officials celebrated the start of construction that will build a wing for a new preschool on their campus.
The wing will be 5,300 square feet and cost the school at 2420 Saint Paris Pike $4 million. Officials said the project would not be possible if it was not for a $3 million donation by the late Jane Hollenbeck, a Springfield philanthropist. The school serves students in kindergarten through the eighth grade and has an enrollment of 105 students.
The new wing will include two classrooms for preschool students, a new kindergarten classroom, a first grade classroom and an administration area. It is slated to open at the beginning of the 2018 school year. Along with the new wing, the administration is also going to replace the roof on the current building and make other upgrades, officials said.
Head of School Aliya Ranginwala said the project is large and will help the school grow.
“We don’t have a lot of concerns, we just have a lot of excitement,” she said. “We are going to be able to take our education model and start it at preschool.”
President of the board of trustees Ash Ahmed said the construction of the preschool is the realization of a 10 year dream.
“We need a preschool because we are losing kids to places that have a preschool,” he said.
After the donation from Hollenbeck, Ahmed said the school began reaching out to alumni to see if they could raise another million dollars to build the new wing.
“We have so many alumni in town and around the country but we were not keeping track of them,” he said. “When we did find them they wanted to donate. We didn’t even have to ask them.”
Alumni who attended the groundbreaking Friday said Ridgewood School made a big impact on their lives.
“I felt like I got a tremendous education,” Dan McGregor, with McGregor Metalworking, said.
He said he felt Hollenbeck would be happy that the school is putting the money she donated to improve the school and to expand it.
Tim Noonan also graduated from Ridgewood and said he is excited to see the school grow.
“It says the school is going to go on,” he said. “It’s moving forward and expanding. A lot of places contract, are having problems and struggling. I am glad it’s doing well.”
Reed Robertson graduated from Ridgewood School in 1939 and said the school is part of his family.
“The reason my kids went here was not because I went here. I felt it offered a superior opportunity for young people to get their learning track shoes on early on and not coast through school. I think it is still that way.
“It’s always been a dear place for me,” he said.
Grandparent Celia Runkle attended the groundbreaking Friday and said she is proud of the school.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “Seeing the school expand and grow, it’s a good feeling.”
She’s had two grandchildren come through the school and said she would recommend it to anyone looking for a good school.
“It seems like the kids are all dedicated to learning. It’s a good thing,” she said. “I couldn’t say enough good things about this school. It is top of the line.”
Ahmed said 65 percent of the children who go to Ridgewood are on scholarship or financial aide and he hailed its diversity and credited it for why people believe Ridgewood is a good school.
“Ridgewood is great for Springfield, Ohio,” he said. “We have been here 100 years. It’s not a private rich school. Economics diversity, racial ethnic diversity, we are a little United Nations in the middle of Springfield.”