The centerpiece of the Lebanon School District’s ambitious plan to alleviate overcrowding moved from the drawing board to the construction phase Thursday when ground was broken for a new middle school adjacent to Lebanon High School.

Early morning clouds gave way to sunshine and blue skies as board members, administrators, construction officials, and dignitaries gathered at the current L.H.S. football practice field, where the new school will be erected. Existing athletic fields will be relocated to district-owned land south of Wilhelm Avenue.

After students Savannah Hershey and Ruby Torres sang the National Anthem, school board president Robert Okonak told those sitting in the bleachers that “we’re going to build something that is going to be here long after we’re gone, that will positively impact the community and the students in this district.”

Lebanon school board president Robert Okonak speaks at Lebanon Middle School groundbreaking. (LebTown)

“Today is huge,” Okonak continued, “as we continue the path, in a brick and mortar sense, of providing quality education for our students.”

Lebanon High students Savannah Hershey and Ruby Torres sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to open the ceremony. (LebTown)

Describing himself as “a Lebanon city kid, lifelong Cedar, and graduate of the school district” who had spent “literally thousands of hours on the ground behind me,” middle school principal Nick Bullock, in only his seventh day in the position, said he was grateful for the opportunities he was afforded as a student and that he was “looking forward to the countless opportunities that will be provided” to future students.

The city’s school district is the fastest growing in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

District superintendent Dr. Arthur Abrom addresses crowd before ground is broken. (LebTown)

The current middle school on North 8th Street, once Lebanon High School, was built in 1937.

The new building will cost an estimated $62 million, and will house up to 900 seventh- and eighth-grade students. The estimated occupancy date is September 2024.

Inflation and supply chain problems had worried district officials that their plan to pay for the new school from cash reserves and federal pandemic relief funds were in jeopardy, but a special meeting to address that possibility was cancelled last month.

L.H.S. musicians, under the direction of Colin McGrory, play the alma mater as shovels await. (LebTown)

Read More:

Lebanon School District plans to put $40 million building on high school campus

Lebanon School District gives more details on building plans to address overcrowding

Lebanon School District targets Aug. 15 opening for new middle school bids

New middle school footprint, at site of existing athletic fields, is shown on engineering plan. Athletic fields will be moved across Wilhelm Avenue.
The first dirt flies at the site of the new Lebanon Middle School. (LebTown)

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Chris Coyle

Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...