From left, Noah Saunders, Jake Vlasnik, and John Collier visit their former second-grade class during an open house at Central Elementary School, which is scheduled to close. Current students are to be moved into a new building on Mitchaw Road.
Carol Kopfmann sat on a chair in the gym of Central Elementary on Saturday, remembering when the building was just a “little school out in the country.”
She was just one of several teachers, students, and community members who gathered at the elementary at 7460 W. Central Ave. in Sylvania Township to pay homage to the school’s more than 80 years of history.
The school will close during the district’s winter break, Dec. 21 to Jan. 4, and staff and students will move into a new building, 4321 Mitchaw Rd., with a new name: Central Trail Elementary.
As a teacher who has worked at the school since 1975, Ms. Kopfmann said her mother also taught there. “A big part of my life is here,” she said.
But much has changed since she first stepped through the main doors, Ms. Kopfmann said.
“This building has just gotten bigger and bigger,” she said, adding that chickens used to be seen right down the road.
Ms. Kopfmann was only one of many who had distinct memories of life at the school. Several former and current attendees gathered to say good-bye and get one last look around the building.
Jill Babos, who last taught at the school about 14 years ago, recalled fond memories in the building.
“The staff is so familylike,” Ms. Babos said. “I loved getting together with them. Even in the teachers’ lounge, I had a great time. We were all like family.”
Camaraderie and meeting up with old friends was a clear theme of the celebration, during which former students hugged each other and took photos together.
Janet Mason, who attended the school in the 1940s, said she still keeps in touch with one of her classmates. Many changes, most of them structural, were new for her.
“It’s a lot, lot bigger,” Ms. Mason said. “We just had the front part [of the building]; no gym.”
Ms. Mason said the cafeteria was upstairs; it’s now the site of the media center.
Central Trail Elementary School, a 72,557-square-foot building, was designed to mirror a parklike setting. It will include skylight features, with earth-tone colors on the walls.
The building will have 39 classrooms, plus an art room, music room, and a computer lab. Updated technological features, such as a geothermal HVAC system, terrazo flooring in corridors, and windows in the gym, also set the structure apart.
The price to build the school was roughly $13.5 million, which will be paid for by a 2008 bonds project.
Kathy Miller, who taught at the elementary in the mid-1980s, said she was particularly excited to see the new building.
“This is the first time I’ve been back. I’m just very happy for everyone getting a new school,” she said.
Peggy Rabideau, who used to work at the school, and Dominic Bruno, whose late wife taught there, look at photos as others mingle and reminisce at Central Elementary.
While a line of Central Elementary spirit T-shirts and sweatshirts was strung across the gym, Ms. Miller and Ms. Kopfmann talked about the evolution of the school’s nickname, from the Hornets to the current incarnation, the Cubs.
The building, which is owned by Sylvania Schools, will be put up for auction.
“By law, we have to put it up for auction,” school spokesman Nancy Crandell said. “It’s a board issue.”
Board President Dave Spiess said it may take some time before the finer details of the auction are sorted out.
“The process is going to begin soon,” he said, adding that the board was mulling over options.
In the end, while the school has changed and while many people have walked through and walked out of the front doors of the brown building on West Central Avenue, the farewell celebration served as a bittersweet treat to retiring the old and starting over with something new.
“This is exciting,” Mr. Spiess said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.