Olivia Hnat, Community Editor

Talawanda High School held its first day of classes in the new building Aug 20. The new building features green facilities and modern science labs. (Lauren Olsen | The Miami Student)

Monday, Talawanda High School began the 2012-2013 academic school year in the brand new building located off of Oxford-Millville Road.

In 2008 voters in the Talawanda School District supported a levy that provided funding for the school. Building the new high school and facilities cost $46 million. The Talawanda School Board’s first attempt to build a new school was in 1986. Now, 26 years later, the doors are open on a modern and environmentally friendly new building.

Talawanda High School is considered a “green” facility and is awaiting the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold rating from the U.S Green Building Council.

Holli Morrish, director of communications and public relations for the Talawanda Board of Education, said she is particularly excited about the sustainable and environmentally friendly aspects of the building.

“The building has an ecological friendly operating system and design structure and is made of all regional materials,” Morrish said. “The geothermal heating and cooling system pays for itself in 20 years.”

Under the soccer fields, 300 pipes cool water to 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit 300 feet below ground. The water is then used to cool the building. It is more efficient and quieter than other forms of cooling and heating.

Also, the building’s design utilizes natural sunlight. The lighting in the classrooms and hallways adjusts to the movement of the sun. The lighting provides the optimal amount of natural lighting and lowers electrical costs.

The “day-lighting” windows that face the east and west sides of the school are slanted to reflect on a student’s desks. According to Morrish, this is eco-friendly and helpful to students.

“Research shows that students are more successful [given] eco-friendly materials and natural light,” Morrish said.

The core academic wing of the school has state-of-the-art science classrooms. In contrast to the old high school, the classrooms have been upgraded with new technology and larger lab spaces. The chemistry classrooms are ready for hands-on learning and science experiments.

The biology classrooms go beyond the concrete confines of the classroom and include a 147-acre outdoor learning lab.

Talawanda science students are partnering with Miami University environmental science students and Butler County Soil and Water Conservation to learn and work in the space. They will work to take water samples of the wetlands to determine how farming practices affect the water in the area.

Jeff Winslow, Talawanda district science instructional leader, made the outdoor learning lab possible.

“There is an emphasis in the US to increase science technology, engineering and math in schools,” Winslow said. “Talawanda is committed to have students use real life examples to teach them the content they need.”

Winslow also thanks the community for supporting the new school.

“Talawanda school district is so glad to be in a community that values education and sustainable environmental practices,” he said. “It has been put into a school that will be used by thousands of students for years to come.”

Stephanie McCabe, a junior biology major at Miami, graduated from Talawanda in 2010. She said the community needed the new school.

“At the old high school we didn’t have air conditioning,” McCabe said. “The old school had cockroaches in the cafeteria, it was so gross. We didn’t have enough room and had some classes in trailers with four classes held in the trailers.”

In addition, Talawanda has new sports facilities. The football field was funded by all private donations and cost under a half a million dollars. Aug. 24 the Braves will begin their season with a field dedication before their game against Monroe High School. The sports facility is complete with a two-tier gymnasium, indoor and outdoor track and a field house.

Talawanda held two orientation sessions to introduce students to the school. In May, Talawanda held a mock day of school with fun activities for students. The last orientation was held Aug. 14th. The orientation sessions allowed all students to become acclimated to the new building.