Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017
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Education

Harvard Elementary celebrates 90 years

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    Former music teacher Janet Keener, who taught at Harvard for 35 years, gets a hug from teacher Michele Pass.

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    Brooklyn Harris, 14, center, smiles while singing in the choir with Makayla Lacy, 13, left, and Kyra Honsberger 13, right, during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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    Alumni Connie Tilimon, left, and her daughter Molly Tilimon-Smith, react to Tilimon-Smith's daughter singing in the choir during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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    A colorful sign hangs on the door of first grade teacher Laura Guenin's room during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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    Harvard alum Mariah LaCourse, left, and her mother Michelle LaCourse, center, react to Harvard parent Krystal Honsberger, right, buying 6 tee shirts for each of her children during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence.

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    A song book from 1913 which was used at Harvard Elementary School.

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    Principal John Jordan holds up memorabilia while presenting an oral history of the school during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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    Harvard Elementary School honor roll from the first semester of the 1926-1927 school year on display during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence.

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    Principal John Jordan holds up memorabilia while presenting an oral history of the school during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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    Current first grade teacher Laura Guenin, center, gives a tour of her classroom to alumni Edward Smith, right, from the class of 1975, and his wife Mary Smith, left, during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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    Alumni Connie Tilimon, left, and her daughter Molly Tilimon-Smith, applaud the choir during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existenc.

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  • CTY-HARVARD20-16

    Andrea Miles, right, who graduated from Harvard in 1989, shows her friend and fellow alumni Jayne Jones, left, who graduated in 1994, a picture of the Harvard Half Pints softball team that she belonged to during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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This generation knows Harvard Elementary as “The Castle on the Hill,” but Principal John Jordan said past generations would have called it the castle on the river.

“Either way, we’re here to celebrate her 90th anniversary,” Mr. Jordan said.

The Toledo Public Schools institution held a two-hour open house on Sunday to celebrate its nine-decade history with songs from the school’s choir, a history lesson from Mr. Jordan, and memorabilia preserved from the school’s 75th anniversary in 2002, primarily collected by retired music teacher Janet Keener. 

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Former music teacher Janet Keener, who taught at Harvard for 35 years, gets a hug from teacher Michele Pass.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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She said somebody has to do the collecting, so it might as well be her. She wanted to honor the school’s history, she said. 

“Without her collecting all of this memorabilia back in 2002, we wouldn’t have them today or going into the future,” Mr. Jordan said. “I have some homework to do before we get to the 100th anniversary in 2027. I need to start collecting anything related to Harvard since 2002.”

Mr. Jordan plans on remaining at work in the 65,889 square foot school, which has students from kindergarten through eighth grade, for as long as he can.

“I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven,” he said of spending his last five years at the school. “This is such a historic building, everybody at Harvard is wonderful to work with.”

The school opened in 1913 with portable classrooms used to house the students. The building standing today opened in 1927 at a cost of $485,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that amount of money would be worth about $6.6 million today. 

“It took them two years. It was supposedly double the cost of all the other elementary schools in that time period,” Mr. Jordan told the roughly 100 parents, students, and former students in the school’s auditorium. “Even though it took two years to build, and some citizens thought it was too ornate, we know then and now that it is an architectural gem by many standards.”

CTY-HARVARD20-16

Andrea Miles, right, who graduated from Harvard in 1989, shows her friend and fellow alumni Jayne Jones, left, who graduated in 1994, a picture of the Harvard Half Pints softball team that she belonged to during a celebration to mark Harvard Elementary School's 90th year of existence at the school on Sunday.

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He is constantly impressed by the school’s Gothic architecture — typically seen at Ivy League schools — and the rusticated limestone terraces that surround the building’s exterior. 

Judy Jones was a student in the 1960s, and found a picture of her as a student with her grandparents at the event on Sunday. 

“It’s different but it’s still the same,” she said. 

Sunday was the first time Andrea Miles had returned to the school since she graduated. 

“The same pictures are still hanging up,” she said. “It was neat to see the kids sing...I remember performing on the stage.”

Current eighth grade students like Makayla Lacy were there to guide visitors on tours, and to reflect on their school’s history.

“I started thinking about it now that I’m in 8th grade,” she said. “I have a lot of memories here.”

Contact Zack Lemon at zlemon@theblade.com419-724-6282 or on Twitter @zack_lemon.

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