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Smile and say “cheese.”
That is what members of Berkshire Local Schools in Burton, Ohio, and their partners including Kent State University are doing as they are all smiles after hearing the news.
On April 13, Great Lakes Cheese, a premier manufacturer and packer of cheeses based in Hiram, and its owner, the Epprecht family, announced a $2 million donation to Berkshire Local Schools. The donation supports the school’s PRIME initiative to assist with the construction of athletic facilities on the future site of the Berkshire Local School District on the campus of Kent State University at Geauga.
PRIME stands for Partnerships for Rural Innovative Models of Education. Berkshire Local Schools has partnered with Kent State, University Hospitals, Auburn Career Center, the Geauga Growth Partnership, KeyBank Foundation, Inventionland Institute, Envision Education, Envision Learning Partners and the Buck Institute for Education to create an innovative approach to teaching and learning that incorporates a project-based approach to instruction. This will allow Berkshire students to work on the 21st-century skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and civic awareness while they learn the content that they need to navigate through school, giving students both the knowledge and the skills needed to be successful in the future.
Part of this initiative also involves the construction of a PK-12 school on the campus of Kent State Geauga with satellite career programs through Auburn Career Center. The new facility will help create a pipeline that can lead students into college or into careers by showing them all of the options that are available to them, helping them to make the choices that are best for them in their pursuit of the American Dream and removing some of the obstacles that many of its students face as they navigate through high school.
“Berkshire Local Schools expresses our deep appreciation to the Epprecht family and Great Lakes Cheese for their investment in our children and our community,” says John Stoddard, superintendent of Berkshire Local Schools. “Mr. John Epprecht stated that athletics plays a major part in the development of young men and women, and the generous donation from him, his family and his company will allow Berkshire Schools to give our student athletes great facilities to showcase their abilities. This facility will also be utilized by the community, bringing a greater sense of wellness to all of us, and taking another step toward making our campus a central hub for the community.”
At its December 2017 meeting, the Kent State Board of Trustees endorsed a resolution of support for the establishment of a strategic partnership with Berkshire Local Schools. The endorsement supports the creation of a strategic partnership that, if a sufficient and timely bond issue is supported by the local community, would include the construction of a PK-12 facility on unused land at Kent State Geauga in Burton.
“From day one, the Geauga Campus team recognized the incredible opportunity we were given to be part of this collaborative effort,” says Angela Spalsbury, dean of Kent State Geauga. “It’s all for our community. The goal is to increase educational attainment, and the Epprecht family’s generous donation emphasizes the value of education and partnership that has always been at the center of the PRIME initiative.”
The PRIME initiative moves to local voters for the consideration of a bond issue approving the school construction and the district’s assurance of available funding for its operation. Upon approval of the bond issue, Kent State administration would be authorized to complete formal negotiations with Berkshire Local Schools to prepare for approval of the Board a final agreement including a ground lease for real property at Kent State in Burton.
For more information about Berkshire Local Schools, visit www.berkshireschools.org.