By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — LYNDONVILLE — Among the Lyndonville alumni, community members and former staff, there was a feeling of familiarity and love throughout the ceremony that officially closed the Lyndonville Elementary School.
“This was my school,” was said repeatedly by the speakers at a homecoming weekend ceremony and dozens of former students who toured its halls one last time Saturday.
Lyndonville’s educational history is deeply intertwined with the Main Street site, which first opened in 1898 and was rebuilt in the 1930s following a devastating fire. For more than fifty years, it was their only school; for another generation of students it was their high school. Over the last five decades, it was been a part of every student’s elementary education.
“Friendships were forged and memories were made ... that have been passed down through the generations,” said Superintendent Jason Smith, who was on the receiving end of plenty stories Saturday.
School officials and alumni looked at mementos from years past in classrooms emptied of desks and books but not spirit Saturday, sparking recollections of classes, assemblies and events.
At the end, it was one of the students who grew up in the older building who closed the door on a long era. Class of ‘33 graduate Pauline Leo James, along with graduate and Lyndonville Board of Education Sue Horvat, locked the front doors of the building where students queued throughout the years.
Former Elementary School Principal Russ Martino remembers those moments well.
“Each morning at 8 a.m., fifty to sixty kids were ready to knock the door down,” said Martino, who was the school’s principal and student hug recipient from 1980 to 1997. “I probably had 10,000 hugs over the years.”
Three full generations of principals were in attendance — Martino, Nancy Good, who followed Martino for a decade as principal; and current Elementary School Principal Patrick Whipple, who followed Good.
They all had warm memories from their years across the street from the school’s consolidated campus — students in trees, class pets on the loose and walls covered in student artwork.
The building was a relic of its era, remembered fondly for its place in the community during a simpler time.
”There were no (interactive) whiteboards,” Good said. “We had blackboards with white dusty chalk.”
But a shrinking student population and a lessened need for a second building even with extensive repair work brought the school’s tenure to an end this spring.
The Lyndonville BoE cited the costs to operate two buildings with a student population that could fit in one building when they voted to move all classes to L.A. Webber High School, named for another former building principal.
Despite the feeling of loss, the mood in Lyndonville was more bittersweet than bitter.
”We honor this building for its services to children and the history that was made here,” Whipple said. “May it always be a place of pride and affection.”Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.