Those attending Thursday’s grand opening of the new Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome will notice many more changes to the former Springfield High/South High School than the name.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the front lawn, weather pending, the public will be able to enter the building for the first time in a year through two newly constructed entrances.
Beyond those doors, new renovated spaces await — the Global Impact STEM Academy on the south end and the YouMedia lab, Dr. David C. Estrop Professional Learning Suite, and various “makers” spaces of the Greater Springfield CareerConnectED Center on the north side.
Visitors will be able to gaze up at the iconic dome while checking out new music recording studios. Those looking for the old science labs will find instead state-of-the-art conference space for professional development. A 3D printer and laser engraver have replaced the traditional blackboard and desks in one former classroom.
On the GISA side, what at first may look like hip lounge areas are actually classrooms, complete with the latest audio-visual technology.
The reopening is the culmination of more than a year of work by a consortium of schools to bring together resources from an $11.3 million state Straight A grant, Clark State Community College and GISA to renovate the historic school into a modern education hub.
Starting the week of Aug. 16, students will fill the halls for the first time since 2008.
More than 260 will attend classes at GISA. Thousands more from Springfield City School District, Clark-Shawnee Local Schools and the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center will have access to the center’s innovative programming after school and on the weekends.
The entire community is invited to tour the center, either directly after the ribbon cutting on Thursday, about 4:30 p.m., or from 3-7 p.m. Friday and 2-6 p.m. Sunday. Guided tours will take about 45 minutes, or guests can take a self-guided tour using a printed handout and signs throughout the building.
“Whichever side they enter from, they’ll be able to see both sides,” said Kim Fish, communications consultant for the district and a member of the Straight A grant team.
Some areas of the building that have not yet been renovated will not be available to tour, including the auditorium and the Clifton Street entrance. A few parts of the CCED are also still under construction, including a welding lab.
Clark State’s food bio-science lab, which will be housed on the second floor, is also still in the demolition phase and will not be open to the public.
Numerous community leaders will be on hand for the ribbon cutting, which will include remarks by state Sen. Chris Widener, Ohio Department of Education Superintendent Richard Ross, and superintendents from the consortium schools, including recently retired David Estrop.
Those coming for tours on Friday or Sunday will also have a chance to sample some of the workshop offerings that will be available to student exploration at CCED. Those include a photography module with local artist Rod Hatfield, activities using 3D printers and laser engraving, and trying their hand at robotics.
It will be just a taste of the varied STEM-focused, student-driven activities that will be available to consortium students once the center opens for good.
“If their first taste of computer programming or their first taste of manufacturing is fun, then they may stay engaged in that field,” Fish said.
GISA’s semester begins Aug. 19, with parent and teacher orientation held Aug. 17.
Resources for OnCourse students and Spanish outreach will be available at The Dome beginning Aug. 19.
CCED will open that week as well with drop-in hours of 2-8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The center is open to high school students attending the consortium districts.