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Published: 1/25/2006

East Toledo: Navarre Elementary is bid good-bye

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The American flag went up for the first time outside the newly built Oakdale Elementary School just a day before one came down for the final time outside Navarre Elementary School less than two miles away.

Students and staff gathered outside Navarre for a ceremony just before dismissal Friday and watched the flag slide down the pole outside the 85-year-old school that is to be torn down and replaced with a modern structure as part of the Toledo Public Schools' district-wide building construction program.

"I feel sad because I've been here since the start of my teaching career [15 years ago]," said art teacher Dawn Zura, who broke down in tears after the ceremony.

That same flag was raised on Tuesday - the first day Navarre students reported to classes at the former Libbey-Owens-Ford Technical Center - but won't be flown again until the new Navarre school is finished, Principal Susan Koester said.

"We're excited, but we're sad about leaving our old building," she said.

"But this flag will fly again, hopefully in 18 months, with a brand-new, beautiful school she added."

The students will be housed temporarily at the LOF-Pilkington site at 1701 East Broadway until the school is built on the same site as the old school, 410 Navarre Ave.

Demolition is slated to start in March, and the building is expected to cost about $11 million to construct and furnish.

While the walls of the classrooms were bare of student papers and artwork last week as teachers finished clearing out their classrooms for the move, the hallway was awash with color because every Navarre student and teacher had dipped ahand in paint to put a handprint on the wall above their names.

"We've been here a long time," music teacher Robyn Hage said. "When you think about the thousands of kids that have walked through here, you wish you could take some of it with you."

Some of those former students were able to say a proper goodbye at an open house to celebrate the school's 85th anniversary on Jan. 8, while current students said they had mixed feelings.

"I'm kinda sad because this was the best school of my life," said third grader Chelsea Nagy, 9, who has attended the school since kindergarten. "But I think I will like the new school because it's new and probably bigger to fit in better."

Ottawa River Elementary was the first of the Toledo Public Schools and Ohio School Facilities Commission projects to be completed. It opened to students in September.

Oakdale Elementary was demolished at the end of the 2003-04 school year, and the new school, which opened for classes last Thursday, houses kindergarten through fifth grade.

The sixth grades from Oakdale and Navarre schools moved yesterday into the new East Broadway Middle School, which previously was called Waite Middle School.

Seventy-seven percent of the Toledo Public Schools' new building program, which may total about $770 million, is being funded by the state. The remainder is paid for by local property owners from a 4.99-mill, 28-year levy voters approved in 2002.

Regardless of whether her school is old or new, fourth grader Felicia Villarreal, 10, said she'll be OK with it because "it will still be called Navarre."

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.cpm

or 419-724-6088.



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