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New buildings to feature new programs (video)


CMSD opened three new high school buildings this week, each with distinctive architectural features and modern amenities that the students have lacked for years.

But just as important as the look and design will be changes in programming that will better prepare graduates for college and the 21st Century workforce.

Max S. Hayes High School, a career-technical center, welcomed students Tuesday to a 161,000-square-foot building near West 65th Street and Clark Avenue. The old Max Hayes, on Detroit Avenue, will be torn down to make way another high school.

The new structure efficiently groups classrooms around work areas where students can practice one of the school’s four career pathways: transportation, information technology, building and property maintenance and manufacturing. Large overhead doors allow easy access to the work areas; mechanical systems are exposed so students can see how those function.

New Principal Kelly Wittman said the school will become a national model, thanks to the manufacturing group WIRE-Net, the Friends of Max Hayes and other business partners who will help develop the curriculum. The partners also will provide internships for students and job-site experiences for teachers.

“Industry is hungry for great, prepared employees,” she said. “Max Hayes graduates will have jobs waiting for them, and they’re not minimum-wage jobs.”

In March, Mayor Frank G. Jackson, schools Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon, employer and union representatives and diversity advocates announced plans for a long-awaited pre-apprenticeship program that will help move Max Hayes graduates to jobs in the construction industry.

Sophomore Keandre McCoy plans to follow in his father’s footsteps and work in construction.

“I want to own my own company,” he said. “I want to build my own home instead of buying one.”

Wittman said Max Hayes is at capacity with about 800 students, including slightly more than 200 ninth-graders, the largest of the four classes.

As part of a career-tech overhaul in the District, the ninth-graders will explore programs at other CMSD career-tech schools to make sure Max Hayes is the right fit for them. As sophomores, they will spend four weeks experiencing each of Max Hayes’ four job pathways.

A large group of elected officials, clergy, alumni and others gathered Monday morning outside the John Marshall building on West 140th Street to welcome students.

“It’s an exciting time,” Councilman Brian Kazy said. “This is going to be the anchor of this ward and this neighborhood for the next 100 years.”

Elaborate stonework from the old John Marshall was preserved and used as benches in the stately new 208,000-square-foot building. Also giving a nod to the past is a corridor decorated with images of notable graduates like former Ohio Attorney General Anthony Celebrezze, former state legislators C.J. Prentiss and Gary Suhadolnik and author Mark O’Donnell.
While other students wandered the halls trying to locate their classes, senior Arelys Toledo paused and took in her surroundings.

“It’s beyond my expectations,” she said. “They’ve gone all out.”
But even though John Marshall, which is pressing capacity with about 1,400 students, kept ties to the past, it is now home to three separate schools that are starting with ninth- and 10th-graders and will focus, respectively, on engineering, information technology and civic and business leadership. Juniors and seniors from the old John Marshall will remain on campus until graduation.

John Marshall’s new schools are also building relationships with community partners.  And partners are reciprocating.

Ian Heisey, who handles youth outreach for the neighborhood Bellaire-Puritas Development Corp., said community leaders hope to supplement the schools’ work with high-quality programming in areas like job skills.

Keith Schneider, manager of the nearby PPG Industries plan, said he will bring employees to John Marshall once a month to work with students on problem solving. The company, which produces coatings for the automotive industry, will also host students at the plant so they can see how what they learn in school “equates to the real world.”

“We’ve got 730 employees over there,” Schneider said. “We want them involved.”

Also on Monday, the Cleveland School of the Arts returned to University Circle after six years in temporary quarters at the former Harry E. Davis Middle School near East 107th Street and Superior Avenue.

The modern, three-story building spans 126,000 square feet filled with practice rooms, studios and a black-box theater. The Friends of the Cleveland School of the Arts hopes to raise $22 million to add an auditorium that the state would not fund.

Senior music student Richard Barrett smiled when asked to contrast the new CSA with Harry E. Davis. He said the structure is a welcome replacement for space he described as dingy and stuffy.

“It’s something else,” said the cello player. “I feel this is a good place for the arts.”

The school, which requires students to audition, is transitioning from a school for sixth through 12th grades into a four-year high school.

About 600 students are enrolled, including 175 ninth-graders. Capacity is 775. The school draws from across the city and beyond; one student drives an hour every day from Warren in Trumbull County.

Principal John LePelley said CSA will place academics and arts on equal footing while attempting to ensure that students are better prepared for college.

He said the school also has adopted the theme, “We are CSA,” to mark the return to University Circle and remind the students of their connection to the surrounding cultural and arts community.

Pre-calculus teacher Dr. Rao Padaraju said students showed up Monday with a stronger focus. He asked them to describe their contributions to the new building and heard them talk of raising ACT scores, working toward graduation and earning scholarships.

“I see it already on their faces,” he said. “They really want to come up with a new attitude.”
The three new buildings cost about $42 million apiece, with the state paying slightly more than two-thirds of the expense.