NEW PARIS — When students at National Trail go back to school this fall, they are going to notice two additions to the school – a greenhouse to benefit the FFA program and an athletic training center, which will also be used for physical education classes.
The greenhouse is being funded by money raised through Ohio’s Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program, while the athletic facility is being built with casino funds, according to National Trail Superintendent Jeff Parker.
“It spurred from the strength of our FFA program that Joe Slone built and Eric Kennel has not missed a beat. I think there a lot of people connected with the FFA at National Trail that would agree with that. It’s hard to replace a legend. Eric is doing a great job of trying to do that,” Parker said of the greenhouse project.
Slone was a popular agriculture teacher and FFA advisor for the district for many years before his sudden death in March of 2014. He helped build the NT FFA program into one of the state’s, and nation’s, best, according to Parker.
Kennel is the current Ag teacher and FFA advisor.
“How the school was going to benefit from the CAUV is really kind of the idea. We’re going to be the beneficiary of this in this community and what can we do with some of that (money) to help say thank you or repay? It’s recognizing that agriculture and FFA is the backbone of this school and this community,” Parker said of the greenhouse. “There is no stronger school group.”
Parker said nearly half the students in the high school are part of the Ag program.
The new athletic trainer center is located near the football and softball fields.
“What’s going to pay for this is the money we receive from the casinos. We are not spending tax payer dollars on this,” Parker said.
The money received will also help furnish the equipment and the cost of the building, according to Parker.
Parker said the current weight room is 900 square feet and does not have proper ventilation.
He said the district researched what it would cost to properly ventilate the current weight room and found it wasn’t feasible with a cost of more than $10,000.
“This is a need we felt. Our kids here deserve nice things,” Parker said. “This is going to be a nice facility.”
The building will include a coach’s office, restroom and shower areas for the teams and a room for the athletic trainer.
“It’s exciting and it’s exciting to be a part of it,” Athletic Director Kevin Alexander said.
“The carryover is, if (a student) can get better and become better in one area of (their) life, it carries over in confidence in other areas,” Parker said. “It truly is a part of the whole education piece. This isn’t just about Friday nights or Tuesday nights. It’s about the whole student and giving our kids in our community something they can be proud of. We are trying to be financially responsible and at the same time give our kids things they deserve.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.