A look at the process of moving out of 1650 Ridgeview Road—and into 1625 Zollinger Road.

By Ben Underwood, ’21. Photo by Pierce Thompson, ’21.

The crosshairs are set: the school where classes are currently being held for students enrolled in the school-based pathway will be demolished this summer. The last event to be held in the school was the senior prom, held on the evening of May 27. The very next day, Friday, May 28, was a teacher work day, and it offered the last day for teachers to finish packing up for the transition to the new school building.

Then, over the memorial day weekend, Midwest Installation Group, a moving company hired by the District, will be working on transporting items out of the building and into storage for the summer. Shortly thereafter, in early June, demolition of the building will start by the natatorium and freshman gym, said assistant principal Sam Belk. Later, athletic fields will be constructed on the site.

“For the most part, the teachers are in charge of getting everything packed up,” science department chair Frank Tuttle said. “It’s a big endeavor, it’s a lot of moving parts, it’s a lot of people coming and going.”

Although indicators of the move—moving crates and bins— are only just now becoming apparent, it has been in the works for much longer. Tuttle said that the science department has been planning for this for over a year.

“We have continued this process since I’ve been here for two
years,” Belk said.

The pandemic has not made it any easier. Some teachers
chose to work from home teaching students enrolled in the online
academy this school year.

“A number of people are having to step up and do a lot more of the actual packing because the others can’t come in,” Tuttle said. “We all understand that. There’s no hard feelings against them or anything like that. It is what it is.”

The science department and the art department have the most stuff to transport to the new school building. As part of the transition process, the science department is hiring a company to dispose of all chemicals housed in the current building. One of the reasons for this is that many of the chemicals within the building are no longer used, mostly because chemicals have not been disposed of over the years.

“I graduated from here in 1984, and there are chemicals in jars that probably pre-date me having graduated,” Tuttle said. “A lot of packrats back then.”

Another reason is that teachers won’t be able to access the building to start the move-in process until late July. In the meantime, these chemicals would have to be stored in crates and bins.

“It’s two months, at least, of storage,” Tuttle said. “There’s just too many chemicals that you really shouldn’t do that with.” The department is purchasing a new set of chemicals for the new school building at the cost of around $10,000. Purchases of new chemicals are generally paid for by a lab fee that students enrolled in lab-based courses must pay at the start of the school year. In a normal school year, the chemistry department spends about eight or nine thousand dollars on chemicals, according to Tuttle.

This disposal is in line with a broader objective of constantly evaluating what needs to be kept within the school and what can be removed.

“The whole goal is to set a cadence where we’re purging and inventorying every year to use what we need, not just over consume and keep things,” Belk said. “You will not walk through the LC of the new building and see random bookshelves full of DVDs—it’s a fresh start.”

In the new school building, each of the three floors will have a teacher work room with offices for about 40 staff members. These large rooms will have an open floor plan. This stands in contrast to the current school building, where many smaller teacher work areas are scattered throughout the building.

Tuttle said that he won’t miss his current set up.

“My normal office is the one under the stairs, but it smells so bad that I had to move,” he said. Along with three other science teachers, he currently uses a former men’s restroom for his office space, whose walls he described as being a “really beautiful off-color yellow.”

Nonetheless, Tuttle said that he had some apprehensions about the new open-floor plan. In his current setup, he sometimes works with students in his office. He said that he initially was concerned about losing the ability to do this in the new building.

“And they said, ‘Oh, well you’ve got all these spaces that you can [use],’ and I said, ‘Okay, well that takes care of it,’” Tuttle said. Located throughout the new school will be little hubs, unschedulable spaces where students can meet with each other or teachers.

“I’m anticipating that there will always be growing pains,” Tuttle said. “People will have to get used to things, but that’s why they hire us. We’re professionals, and we’ll do it.”

Over the summer, building administrators, custodians and secretaries will be in a tough situation: the old high school will be in the process of being demolished, but they won’t yet have access to the new building.

Belk said that they will most likely be working at one of the District’s other schools or at the Graf Center. But when Arlingtonian went to press, a location had not yet been decided upon.

“We’re trying to find a place where we could bring our whole crew on, a nice place where we could all kind of be centrally located,” Belk said.

After the City of Upper Arlington grants occupancy of the new building to the District, it will be a quick process of moving in and preparing for another school year. The first day for students is currently set for Aug. 18.

“It will be a busy several weeks preparing the building for students. We [have to] get staff in here to get acclimated; we have to get students in here to get acclimated,” Belk said. “That’s all in the design phase right now.”

Regardless, education will take place.

“One of the biggest things as a teacher you have to learnhow to be is flexible,” Tuttle said. “We may not have everything unpacked, but we’ll be there, and we’ll be doing science.”