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Published: Wednesday, 5/25/2011

Sylvania school's demise sparks a lesson in creativity

Open house set at Maplewood

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Graffiti on the door of a fifth-grade classroom at Maplewood Elementary in Sylvania is one way students and staff are saying good-bye to the 82-year-old downtown building. They will start next school year in a new building where Burnham had been. Graffiti on the door of a fifth-grade classroom at Maplewood Elementary in Sylvania is one way students and staff are saying good-bye to the 82-year-old downtown building. They will start next school year in a new building where Burnham had been.
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The writing is truly on the walls at Sylvania's Maplewood Elementary School, notably in the fifth grade classroom of -- no kidding -- Jennifer Grafitti.

They have written notes to each other and to their school, in permanent marker. They even invited pals from kindergarten to contribute artwork.

But repainting won't be necessary, and anyone who has ever thought scribbling on the walls in school would be a guilty pleasure can do it too -- Thursday evening at Maplewood Memories, a send-off of sorts for a building about to end its 82-year history in downtown Sylvania.

The two-hour open house is to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Historic photos and memorabilia will be on display, including a slide show depicting Maplewood's history. Staff will offer for sale commemorative T-shirts, and students will present quilt squares each grade made to memorialize the building. Refreshments will be served.

Proceeds from the T-shirt sale will go into a fund to pay for a portable stage for the new school.

Students will have a commemorative assembly during their school day too.

"We usually don't get to write on the walls, because that's against the rules," fifth grader Eve Harris said matter-of-factly about the chance she and her classmates had because the building is about to be torn down.

Construction of the building next door is far enough along that Sylvania City Schools officials have no doubt about making opening day in August.

Becky Goff, a third-grade teacher who is retiring at the current school year's end, said she and many colleagues plan to watch when the contractor starts ripping into the old school, tentatively set for June 18.

Maplewood Elementary teacher Becky Goff stands with Principal Ed Eding after she signed a school wall. Mr. Eding, who said he felt bittersweet about replacing the building with a new one, had taught sixth grade there. Maplewood Elementary teacher Becky Goff stands with Principal Ed Eding after she signed a school wall. Mr. Eding, who said he felt bittersweet about replacing the building with a new one, had taught sixth grade there.
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Her entire 35-year teaching career has been at Maplewood, first as a student teacher, then as a permanent substitute for a year, and then a few years teaching various grades before settling into a third-grade room.

"It's bittersweet," said Mrs. Goff, who expects to take a box of tissues with her on demolition day. "It's a lovely new building, but there are a lot of memories here."

Maplewood's precise age is subject to debate . A dedicatory plaque says it was built in 1929, but Principal Ed Eding said that a similar marker for the new building says 2010, the year of its groundbreaking, rather than its 2011 opening.

Maybe someone who remembers for sure will show up at Maplewood Memories? Such a person would have to be over 90 now to have attended the school the year it opened.

Mr. Eding too used "bittersweet" to describe his feeling about the transition at the school that is close enough to home that he sometimes walks to work.

Besides being in charge at Maplewood for three years, he taught sixth grade there for six years in the era before Sylvania's sixth graders went to junior high.

But the old school's time clearly has come, the principal said, pointing to a restroom that regularly floods in heavy rain and to the building's many staircases, the legacy of a time when physical handicaps were ignored in designing public buildings.

"It's a beautiful building, but it's falling apart," Mr. Eding said.

The new school, he said, will be comparatively luxurious, with spacious hallways and classrooms, sinks in every room, student lockers in the rooms instead of in hallways, geothermal climate control and solar-assisted lighting, and a separate gymnasium and cafeteria instead of a multipurpose room.

"The gym is gigantic. It's probably 2 1/2 times bigger than what we have now," the principal said. The proposed portable stage would be designed to fit in a large doorway between the gym and cafeteria, thus allowing the latter to be used as a backstage area during student performances.

As the school's final graduating class, this year's fifth graders will be moving on in August and thus not getting any reward for putting up with inconveniences wrought by the new Maplewood's construction.

Most notable was the loss of the playground, which was jammed with building materials, leaving just a tiny area for outdoor recreation most of the year before Mr. Eding arranged to have Judi Young Lane closed during recess.

"We can all fail our subjects and go again," student Alex Vasquez quipped to suggest how he and his classmates could attend the new school, which has been built on the former site of the Burnham Building, Sylvania's original high school.

The Burnham Building was torn down in late 2009. The current Maplewood site is to be redeveloped this summer as its replacement's entrance concourse and parking lot.



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