Staci Cook, left, Coy Elementary class of 1984, and Diane Spetz, whose children attend Coy, look at an old yearbook during open house at the school on Pickle Rd. in Oregon
Kathy Varga, 56, said she always drives by Coy Elementary School in Oregon on the way to visit her mother, even though she hasn't been inside the building since she was in sixth grade.
"I've always wanted to come back and see my old school," she said.
Cleo Mominee, from left, Joan Row, and Walter Humberger look over a collage of some of the old school photographs that were displayed during the open house at Coy Elementary School. The three lifelong friends were Coy classmates since kindergarten.
Forty-five years later, she and the rest of the community were invited to come back to the school during an open house to say goodbye.
Coy, 2630 Pickle Rd., is closing its doors at the end of the school year after holding 81 years worth of bright-eyed young students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Hundreds of people turned out to reminisce with each other in the hallways of the school during the open house last week.
"It far exceeded what we expected," said Principal Lonny Rivera regarding the turnout.
Coy ELementary School music teacher Deb Evans, center, chats with Doris Wilka Kocik, left, and Carol Myers Agnew, right. Ms. Kocik wrote the music for the Coy song, and Mrs. Agnew wrote the lyrics.
People were forced to park on the grass near the school because the parking lot was jam-packed.
The walls on the first floor of the three-story building were covered with pictures from Coy's history, along with artwork created by current students.
Most walked slowly down the hallways, pausing at each of the clusters of photos to point out familiar faces or take photographs with old classmates.
Terri Roughton, 57, gave a small tidbit of information about each of the people she recognized on a poster - people she knew "a bazillion years ago."
Memories also came flooding back to Mrs. Varga as she spotted certain places throughout the school.
Pausing by her old fifth-grade classroom, she laughed when she remembered the girl who used to put foreign objects on her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Visitors who wound up in the school's gym were able to peruse photo albums and yearbooks and buy T-shirts with the new school pictured on the front.
While she said she has some attachment to the old building, teacher Nancy Coy - whose last name is coincidentally the same as the name of the building - said she's looking forward to next school year.
Her new classroom has 300 square feet more than her existing one, and there are 10 outlets for electronics instead of two.
"This building has served its purpose, but we've outgrown it," she said.
Mr. Rivera said that while the open house is bittersweet, it's definitely time for the students and faculty to move on to a bigger school.
"We've got people in closets, and plus this building is old and tired," he said.
But he said there's no chance that those involved with the school will lose the connection they have with each other, even without the old building that fostered the relationships.
"The school's kind of like a church," he said. "It's not the building. It's the people."
The brand-new Coy building is down the road from the old building at Pickle and Schmidlin roads.
The modern school, which is set to be finished this summer and ready for students in August, will offer more room for learning, have better accessibility, and give more opportunities to try out new technology.
The new school will be a "prairie-style" building, with parking lots to the north and south, bus and drop-off loops, and ball fields behind the building near covered outdoor play areas.
After school hours, the public could enter the gym through two side doors and not gain access to any of the classrooms, which would be built around the perimeter of the building.
Coy is the only building that is being completely rebuilt through the district's plan for each of its school buildings.
It's a priority because of its age and proximity to the Sunoco refinery's tank farm.
Income from a $45 million bond issue that was approved in November by voters in the school district will pay off bonds for the building improvements to all the district's schools over 28 years.