WILMINGTON — Laurel Oaks will be the “most forward” of Great Oaks’ four campuses upon completion of a $35 million construction and renovation project.
Dwayne Boso, an MSA principal and architect, added that in addition to new lab and classroom space and an expanded cafeteria, the advances at Laurel Oaks Career Campus will provide greater security and comfort for students and create space for collaboration and continuing education.
Representatives from the project’s design and construction companies, members of the Great Oaks board, and past, current and future students were present for the Laurel Oaks Launch and Groundbreaking event Tuesday.
A new addition will connect the two main existing buildings, and will create a secure and inviting new entrance. A new driveway from Airborne Road will mean safer student, staff and visitor parking.
To honor the area’s aviation heritage as well as the Laurel Oaks site’s history as an air base, the new connective addition is designed to evoke an aircraft’s struts-braced wing. The design also provides natural light in the center of the building, and has elements similar to entrances at the Diamond Oaks and Scarlet Oaks career campuses.
The major renovation project is expected to take three years to complete.
In Great Oaks President Harry Snyder’s remarks, he brought up the history of the original air field used as a test site for military gliders that were utilized for getting troops and heavy equipment behind enemy lines. Only two days away from the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Snyder mentioned the role of glider pilots who participated in the Normandy landings in France.
In addition to the many Clinton countians in military service during World War II, the former presence of a glider test site here is “our link to World War II,” Snyder said Tuesday.
As part of the Launch and Groundbreaking event, students tossed small souvenir gliders toward the sky.
The project will be accomplished without an additional tax levy for construction. Great Oaks will leverage the General Fund dollars that are part of a 2.7-mills ongoing operating levy approved in fall 2018.
The first ground-breaking photo opportunity featured three Laurel Oaks alumni: Mariah Carter, Will Childers and Lily Clark. They were digital arts and design students at Oaks who played a part in the funding effort for the expansion project.
They created a presentation about the need for the construction and then presented it to Statehouse officials in Columbus to help secure, with the help of former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, $1.5 million in state funding.
Clark is attending the Art Academy of Cincinnati, majoring in design and illustration. Childers is a full-time employee at Ahresty in Wilmington and on the side works in online entertainment. Carter is a new nursing student at Southern State Community College.
Four of Highland County’s five public school districts — Fairfield, Greenfield, Hillsboro and Lynchburg-Clay, are affiliated with Laurel Oaks. Other affiliated school districts include Blanchester, Clinton-Massie, East Clinton, Wilmington, Miami Trace and Washington.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.