$200,000 donation will improve outdoor space at new Larson Middle School in Grandview

The Grandview Heights Marble Cliff Education Foundation (GHMCEF) has donated $200,000 to schools in Grandview Heights, which will allow the district to plan an upgraded version of the outdoor discovery space already planned for the new Larson Middle School .

The outdoor space has already been included in the third phase of the neighborhood facilities project, which is expected to begin in February or March 2023.

“This will mean an enhancement to our existing site plan and allow us to incorporate additional components and add discovery, play and learning amenities for our students in grades four through eight,” said the Superintendent Andy Culp.

The space will be created in the area occupied by the current Edison Intermediate Larson Middle School on Oakland Avenue. The third phase of the project will include the demolition of the building.

Larson Middle School’s new building, located between the high school and EILMS, is currently occupied by students in grades 9 through 12, while the high school is undergoing an interior renovation.

“We have already had a meeting with students, staff and community members to discuss potential ideas for what we can add to the sitemap, and we will have more public meetings to come,” said Culp.

Potential additional amenities that could be considered as part of the revised site plan could include more challenge areas, such as a large outdoor chess board or Connect 4 play site, outdoor learning areas with benches or a expanded play space, Culp said.

Final elements will incorporate feedback from community members, students and staff, he said.

The current EILMS site will also include other elements such as landscaping and plants, a turnaround for student drop-off and basketball courts that were in the original site plan, Culp said.

The foundation is making the donation “to celebrate our 30th anniversary and continue our mission to give back to the community and the school district,” said foundation president Nicole Donovsky.

The foundation was established in 1991 but is “celebrating its 30th anniversary a year late” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

The foundation’s annual gala, which serves as the group’s main fundraiser, is usually held each February. The gala did not take place in 2021 and was again canceled for 2022, Donovsky said.

“Fortunately, the early leaders of the foundation had the foresight to establish an endowment fund, and this fund has allowed us to continue to provide grants and scholarships even without a gala for the past two years,” Donovsky said.

The foundation has expanded its scholarship program to include awards for adults seeking to extend their training and education to help them change careers, she said.

The value of an outdoor discovery space for the school district is even more pronounced in the pandemic era, Donovsky said.

Although there is no gala this year, the foundation will plan a public event later in 2022, she said.

“It’s humbling to serve as superintendent in a community with an organization that is so supportive of our schools as an education foundation,” Culp said.

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