Monroe Central High School has been educating students for nearly 20 years, but never in a building the Seminoles could call their own.
That changed Sunday, when the ribbon was cut to open the newly constructed Woodsfield Elementary and Monroe Central High School buildings. Both buildings are located along Lewisville Road, a short drive from downtown Woodsfield.
The new high school replaces a group of modular buildings that had housed Monroe Central students at the Swiss Hills Career Center site. Those "trailers," as many referred to them, were put in place when the former Woodsfield and Skyvue high schools were consolidated to form Monroe Central.
The new elementary building replaces a structure near the center of town that was built in the 1950s. Both new buildings already are occupied by students.
"We were very excited," said Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Superintendent Larry Elliot as he described Sunday's ceremony. "It was a very good turnout. (State Sen.) Lou Gentile was our guest speaker, since he had been part of the (Ohio) School Facilities Commission during his time as senator."
The ceremony was followed by an open house, which Elliot said was the first real chance for the general public to view the schools.
Support services director Marc Ring shared the superintendent's enthusiasm.
"We were all like a bunch of kids waiting for Christmas," Ring said, adding that he could recall hearing the promise of a new school in 1968. "This has been 40 years in the making. After at least 19 years in modulars, they (the students) can finally call a place home."
The project began in 2009 with then-Gov. Ted Strickland presenting 63 percent of the total project funding from the OSFC.
Ground was broken in fall 2010. The new high school includes 50,000 square feet of space and cost about $10.5 million to build. The elementary school measures 75,000 square feet and cost $14 million.
Featured in the design of the two buildings is a geothermal loop system for heating and cooling. Geothermal energy is generated and stored in the earth and can be utilized to control the climate of appropriately-designed buildings.
Ring also said that no one contracting company controlled the project, but that it was a collaboration of a number of different contractors.
Construction did not go smoothly, though, and Ring cited a number of delays that postponed completion of each project by six months. As work was under way, however, administrators said the public supported the project.
"A few people were doubtful at first, but not over time," said Elliot.
He also pointed out that the contractors working on the schools ate at local restaurants and shopped at local businesses, which further benefited the community.
According to Elliot, the completion of these two schools is part of a larger, $89 million district-wide school construction project. It has included new schools at Beallsville and will feature a new facility in Powhatan Point, as well as renovation of River High School and construction of an elementary facility at that site.
"It's really wonderful to see the students finally have a good school campus," said Elliot. "And there's more coming."