Groundbreaking for new OCHS to be blessed event
OCEAN CITY - Today's groundbreaking for the new $40 million high school promises a mix of politics, praise and preaching.This is Ocean City, after all.Gov. James E. McGreevey tops the list of invited guests who will mark the official start of construction on the long-awaited high school.
Besides the governor, other invited guests include Cape May County freeholders, members of City Council, former U.S. Rep. William Hughes, D-2nd, and the 1st District legislative delegation."I feel like my daughters are getting married, I'm running around so much," Board of Education President Gregory Johnson said.
The Rev. Bob Smith of St. Peter's United Methodist Church will bless the site of the future public school before work begins, Johnson said.Many of the city's church leaders have been invited to the ceremony. At the conclusion, several churches around the island will toll their bells, Johnson said.
This blurring of the lines between church and state might seem a little odd. But Ocean City was founded as a Methodist retreat. Only recently did this resort town abolish many "blue laws" established by the founding Methodist fathers.
The school board president is an ordained minister. The city's governing body opens every meeting with a short prayer.But blessing public property?
"The first time I heard about it, I thought it was a little peculiar, too," said the Rev. Mark Bruesehoff of St. John's Lutheran Church. "But knowing Ocean City's religious background, it doesn't surprise me."
Construction of the new school will get under way this summer. The new school is slated to open in September 2004.
Johnson said the groundbreaking gives the school board a chance to thank the public for approving a $24.5 million referendum in December. Voters rejected three previous bids to expand the old school.
The Ocean City High School band and choir and the Upper Township Festival Singers will perform for the crowd.
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