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Razing of school section is bittersweet experience


Saturday's demolition of the portion of Winfield Elementary built in 1935 closed a chapter in southwest Carroll County's history.

The old portion of the building was razed to make way for the second phase of the school's expansion and modernization.

Winfield Elementary School PTA President Kathy Hamblet said she experienced a "sudden sentimentality" when she walked through the old section of the school last week before the demolition.

"You could hear previous generations of children when the classrooms were empty," she said.

Several hundred red bricks were rescued from Saturday's demolition for a PTA activity, although none of the details have been finalized, Mrs. Hamblet said.

Some of the bricks have been reserved for former teachers and students of Winfield Elementary, she added.

Chuck Gerhold spent much of last week volunteering at Winfield Elementary, performing such tasks as moving file cabinets and installing clocks. Mr. Gerhold, whose wife, Dorothy, is a fifth-grade teacher at Winfield, said he's writing a history of the school, founded more than 50 years ago by Arthur Griffee.

"I'm excited about the new school, but at the same time you have to be a little nostalgic about the old one," said Mr. Gerhold, who said he was refinishing a brass lantern that once hung in the old school's entrance. "It's going to be very hard to watch them knock it down."

The demolition represented the end of a frantic week of moving 11 classrooms, several storage rooms, the health room and the office from the 1935 and 1965 portions of the school into the recently completed first phase of the expansion project.

Principal Raymond Mathias said the original plan called for a two-week moving period, but that was cut to five days because of his concerns about the safety of the 1965 section after the demolition of the oldest portion of the facility.

"We really did some moving," said Mr. Mathias, who explained the move was accomplished through the effort of teachers, staff, maintenance workers and parent volunteers during days and evenings.

After last week's move, all students will be housed in the newly constructed area of the expansion.

"It's great. I just feel it's a real plus for the community and the children," said Mr. Mathias.

On Thursday afternoon, second-grade teacher Catherine Rollins moved out of Room 3, which she has occupied for the past 12 years.

"Monday evening we got the word that this section all had to be out of here this week," said Mrs. Rollins, as maintenance workers loaded carts and dollies with most of the contents of her classroom.

She said she would have Friday to set up her new classroom with the help of volunteers as a substitute took over her class.

"Thank goodness for mothers," she said, adding her students would officially move into their new classroom late Friday afternoon.

Noting she felt a little nostalgic about moving from the portion of the building she has taught in for the past 26 years, she said her students were very excited about the move.

"We get a view of the courtyard; the kids love that," said Mrs. Rollins. "Their word is 'awesome.' "

"This is really the end of an era," added Sue Ellen Jenkins, Winfield Elementary's school nurse, whose son is in Mrs. Rollins' class. "It's exciting, but it's kind of bittersweet."

At 3 p.m. Friday, Mrs. Rollins' 21 second-graders paraded wide-eyed into their new classroom, carrying chairs and large brown paper bags filled with their school possessions.

"It's nice 'cause it's brand new," said 8-year-old Kevin Heckendorn, who was waiting for his bus number to be called at the end of the day. He added he wasn't sad about leaving his old classroom "because it was kinda too small."

"I like how we can open up the door [of the room partition] and go into another classroom," added 7-year-old Richard Allred.

"It makes me feel happy, because the other room was icky, and this one is pretty," said Trinity Turner, 7.

"I always wanted a locker like my friend," added 7-year-old Kendra Hildreth.

Charles J. Frank Inc. is the general contractor of the $4.5 million expansion and modernization project, which is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 1993, said Lester Surber, supervisor of school facilities and planning. Phase I of the project, which is completed, included 20 classrooms, the media center, cafeteria and faculty lounge, said Mr. Surber.

Saturday's demolition began Phase II, which will be followed by the renovation of the 1965 portion of the school and additional classrooms to be constructed on the site of the 1935 portion, said Mr. Surber.

"The overall capacity is going up to 630 students," he said, adding redistricting will add about 150 students from Mount Airy Elementary.

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