EDS NOTE: This is the first in a series of stories about the recent Greenville City School building open houses.
GREENVILLE — People paid their last respects to Greenville Primary School (GPS), aka Woodland Heights Elementary, on Saturday.
GPS Assistant Principal Jennifer Statzer awaited the guests at the entrance.
“I understand their sentiments and it is bittersweet,” she said. “We are also excited for the new school. We are looking forward to the improved academic opportunities that the new building will bring.”
As one walked through, stories of old memories drifted through the air. Jeff Barker, of Greenville, perused the halls and one last time, soaked in the details of his youth.
“I can’t believe I went to school in that cafeteria — it’s so small,” he said. “Everyone passed their cheese down to a boy named Eric. He ended up with a big pile until the teacher made us stop.”
“I remember rinsing our mouths out in fluoride cups, pencil sharpeners and pencil vending machines,” Barker added. “Everyone wanted the Bengals or Cowboys pencils. We kept a wad of NFL [National Football League] pencils in a rubber band to trade with friends. The Bengals and Cowboys pencils were the most coveted. I was a Cub Scout here. I got to get out of class to raise the flag. I have a lot of memories here, but I think the new school is wonderful. It’s a great improvement.”
Mitchell Pence, of Greenville, graduated from the class of 2013. He wanted to visit all of the classrooms one last time, beginning with kindergarten.
“I do feel sad,” he said. “This is where I met friends who I am still friends with today. We shared lunch and gym class. We were in the Scrooge play. Many people don’t enjoy their time at school and I really enjoyed learning. It is sad to watch this building be brought to the ground.”
According to the Greenville City School District’s 2015 Audit Report, Woodland Heights Elementary was built in 1956 to serve the City of Greenville and adjacent townships by replacing many one-room schools. The building had an addition, in 1968. The biggest educational change to the district in many years resulted from the realignment of the school district. Formerly, the Woodland Heights Elementary building served grades kindergarten through fifth grade as one of four elementary schools. It most recently served as Greenville Primary School for grades kindergarten through second grade, serving approximately 700 students within the boundaries of 127 square miles, according to the report.
Greenville City Schools Superintendent, Douglas Fries was grateful for a chance for people to say “goodbye” to the schools.
“It was a great opportunity to all in the community who have had special times in these buildings,” he said. “I understand the desire to reminisce, as I was a teacher from 1985/86 through 1998/99 at the junior high and high schools, and my kids went to Woodland. At the same time, with great excitement I look forward to the new facility. There is no question that the new building will provide 21st Century technological advancements, improvements in accessibility and security, and many more positive advantages to our students, teachers and parents.”