It may have been 8 a.m., but that didn’t stop the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland boys’ elementary school students and staff from dancing and singing in celebration of the opening of their new educational complex Oct. 12 in Cleveland Heights.
The recently completed Oakwood campus, which also houses the early childhood school, was originally planned to open in late August. However, the academy postponed the opening due to the facility not being completed in time for the start of the school year.
The elementary school boys temporarily attended class at the South Taylor Road campus in Cleveland Heights, where they shared the space with the girls’ elementary school until the Oakwood campus was finalized.
But on that Tuesday morning, hundreds of elementary school boys and their teachers gathered on the parking lot outside of the Oakwood campus to finally start class at the facility.
“Today is a historical day in your lives and in the history of our school ... and each of you is an important part of this milestone,” Rabbi Simcha Dessler, educational director of Hebrew Academy, said to students and staff. “... This is the day that we inaugurate a place for learning Torah, a place that has never before experienced Torah and tefillah.”
Those present enjoyed an early morning dance party to music from deejay A.Y. Nakdimen, and everyone joined together to sing songs.
After the students entered the school for the first time, mezuzot were hung in the school’s entrance doorways.
The new complex was designed by Ronald Kluchin Architects Inc. of Cleveland. The contractor was Great Lakes Crushing LTD of Wickliffe.
With the new building, which both attaches to and dwarfs the clubhouse of the former Oakwood Country Club, the school gains 41 classrooms in a two-floor, state-of-the art school building with elevators, technology hardwired into classrooms and a gymnasium and auditorium that can be split or combined with capacity seating for up to 1,000.
A fundraising campaign goal of $32.5 million included the purchase of the 92-acre former Oakwood Country Club and the repurposing of the clubhouse building, which will continue to house about 250 students. Hebrew Academy’s total enrollment for 2021-22 is approximately 1,340 students.