Work on a new track at Middletown Middle School is scheduled to begin in August, and the new facility will be named after a long-time teacher at the school.
Students at the school raised more than $8,000 of the roughly $50,000 needed for the repaving of the asphalt track, Christy Kehlbeck announced at a groundbreaking for the project Friday. Kehlbeck is co-chairman of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Committee’s track project committee.
At Friday’s event, Kehlbeck announced the repaved 60-year-old track would be named for Dave Grove, a physical education teacher at the school who first worked as a student-teacher in 1972.
The announcement drew a cheer from the students who had assembled for the groundbreaking and came as a surprise to Grove, who said the project was much needed for the school.
The track had been out of use for several years because of its poor condition. On Friday, several cracks and potholes were visible on the asphalt surface.
For now, students have to cross a street to the high school when they want to use the track or do running exercises, he said.
The school also received a $10,000 payment from Henkel Helps, an organization run by the Henkel corporation, after students, parents and community members launched an initiative that included producing an online video and orchestrating a voting campaign through email and text messaging.
Raising the money seemed like a daunting task at the beginning, said Susan Kleinhanzl, Kehlbeck’s co-chair on the track committee.
“Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money in a community that’s so small,” Kleinhanzl said.
Henkel sees youth health and fitness as a national crisis, and gives $10,000 each to elementary, middle and high schools that propose ways to improve students’ fitness, said spokesman Andy Poarch.
“This is just the type of initiative they want to support,” he said.
Will Diederich, an eighth-grader at the school, wrote a winning essay for the project. Although he’ll be going across the street to the high school next year, he’ll be excited to see the younger students using the new track and will know he helped contribute to a good cause, he said.
Middle school Principal Frank Vetter said working on the project helped teach students an important life lesson by showing what can happen when they work together for something they believe in.
Grove said no one told him the track would be named after him until Kehlbeck’s announcement.
“There’s a lot of people who did a lot of things for Middletown. I don’t know if I deserve it,” he said.