LAKE TWP. The event April 7 was called, "Farewell Hartville and Lake Elementary: A Celebration of Memories," and gave community members a chance to say goodbye to both school buildings before their demolitions this summer. It was a night filled with memories and seeing old friends.
Lake Elementary had hundreds of alumni, current students, teachers and others from the community walking through and looking at the items and rooms and remembering. Many people were looking through old photos to find themselves or their siblings and friends.
"We are hoping to see 500 to 1,000 people here this evening," said Lake Communications Director Karen Koch said.
She said many alumni were expected to attend. The two oldest alumni planning to attend were Paul Kamerer, who is 91-years-old, and Esther Esholman Young, who is 106-years-old.
Some of the alumni were taking photos of the old school photos so they can share online or with those who couldn’t make it to the event. Many others were participating in the live and silent auctions of items such old desks, bookcases, auditorium seating, sports trophies and old photos.
The Lake Local School District had a variety of activities planned to help visitors step back in time and remember and share favorite school memories such as:
- A reception for Lake alumni
- A basketball free-throw contest between current Lake High School basketball players and those from yesteryear
- Two free music programs featuring music by talented Lake student musicians of all ages
- A chili meal with sides, milk, and ice cream bar which was a long-standing lunch served on Mondays at Hartville school years ago
- Guided tours of both buildings; visitors were also able to walk through the schools on their own throughout evening
- A 1950s Y-Teen dance with high school dancers
- A silent and live auction of unique Lake-related items, including selected items from the two buildings
- Colorful student artwork and historic Lake photos and memorabilia reflecting staff, students and activities through the years were on display
- A commemorative Hartville School ornament, sold by the Lake Township Historical Society (LTHS), was available for purchase during the event.
The parking areas around both buildings were parked full as were the streets in the area. The district also provided bus service to and from parking at the Blue Streak Stadium.
The Hendershot siblings and their mother were just one of the many groups of alumni walking through Lake Elementary. Steve Hendershot and his sisters Diane Burgner and Jeri Kirkbride all attended either Hartville Elementary or Lake Elementary and all graduated from Lake High School. Their mother, Dorothy, worked at the school as secretary to the principal.
The group was looking through the photos and other memorabilia. They were all disappointed that the district was selling off some of the photos and trophies.
"Just being in the building brings back a lot of memories." Steve Hendershot said. "It would be nice if they could find some room to store the old photos and trophies instead of selling them."
Another alum, Jim Wenger, was looking through some old class photos trying to find himself and he came to the event to find some of his school friends.
"I went through grades one through six in the Lake Elementary and moved to the high school which is now the middle school when I went into seventh grade," Wenger said. "I have lots of good memories of going to school here and the best part of this evening is walking around and finding more memories. I’ve run into a few people I graduated with, but I was hoping to see more."
The event was a collaborative effort between Lake Local Schools, the Lake Township Historical Society and Lake alumni.
The Hartville Elementary building, built 91 years ago and was originally known as Hartville School. It opened in 1927 for students in grades 1-12. It has been remodeled and expanded during its 91 years, and houses students in kindergarten through third grade. Koch said It is the oldest operating school building in Stark County, according to county school records.
Lake Elementary was built in 1954. It was originally built as a new wing for Hartville High School and it houses students in grades 4-5.