Final bell for Hawkeye school
There were plenty of mixed emotions at Hawkeye Elementary on Wednesday, May 29, as the North Fayette staff and students celebrated the beginning of summer vacation, but also said their final goodbyes to the building, which has served the local school district since 1970. (Mike Van Sickle photo)
Final bell for Hawkeye school
By Mike Van Sickle
There was an almost continuous line of individual and group hugs as the students of Hawkeye Elementary filed out and shared their year-end goodbyes with their favorite teachers and staff during the last day of classes on Wednesday, May 29.
While the focus of the children was mainly on their mentors and the much-anticipated start of summer vacation, many of the adults were coming to the realization that they were not only saying goodbye to their students and classrooms for the year, but to Hawkeye Elementary, as well – most likely forever.
“It’s a sad day. It truly is,” North Fayette Elementary Principal Kathy Bauer later said. “It’s not only sad for the community of Hawkeye, but also for a lot of North High and North Fayette graduates that were associated with this building.
“It’s truly a beautiful one-story building, and I really hope that the school district will continue to work in finding a future use for it,” the Hawkeye native added.
The North Fayette Board of Directors approved closing Hawkeye Elementary in March 2013. The realignment includes moving fifth- and sixth-grade students to Fayette, while all other younger students will now be enrolled at the West Union attendance center.
Due to the recent North Fayette Valley whole-grade sharing agreement, high school students of the two neighboring school districts will attend the high school in West Union. Meanwhile, all seventh- and eighth-grade students will go to Valley.
“The best (educational) scenario is to have kindergarten through fourth-grade students in one building,” admitted Bauer, who has witnessed three restructurings during her decadelong tenure as principal at North Fayette. “With the direction that the state seems to be going with Response to Intervention (RTI), having all grade levels together is essential. We all understand that we have to do what’s best for the kids.”
“This should be the last move for the (elementary level) students and staff,” added Superintendent Duane Willhite. “Sadly, it is the end of an era at Hawkeye, and I feel bad that it had to get to this point. But all of us continue to look forward in providing the best opportunities for all the students.”
Current plans are for the school district to continue maintaining the Hawkeye building to allow for it to be utilized as a school bus pickup/drop-off point. Willhite noted that many of the furnishings are remaining in the building as the school district continues to investigate options for its use.
Among the items that often went unnoticed by visitors to the school is a plaque that hung in the school entry and featured the names of the former school district’s board of education at the time of its 1970 construction: President Elmer Buhr, E.S. Estey, Gerald Richards, Lester Steffens, Dale Halverson, and Franklin Reyner Jr. The school board secretary was S. Irene Martin, while Carroll W. Grimes served as treasurer. In addition, the inscription included superintendents Donald W. Mueller and R. Wesley Carlson.
The new brick building replaced an aging three-story high school building that had still been used for the elementary grades after Hawkeye consolidated with West Union and upperclassmen began attending West Union centers.
The opening of the Hawkeye structure also coincided with the opening of the new high school and a remodeling project at the junior high in West Union.
The inaugural Hawkeye Elementary staff included Clement Bodensteiner, principal; Janice Dietz, .5 vocal music and .5 kindergarten teacher; Marion Timm, first grade teacher; Dorothy Mattocks, second grade teacher; Joanne Winter, third grade teacher; Ann Oakland, fourth grade teacher; Bernice Woodson, fifth grade teacher; Margaret Melby, sixth grade teacher.
Although it was originally constructed to house Hawkeye area kindergarten through sixth-grade students, this school year the school housed first- and second-graders from throughout the North Fayette school district.
The 2012-2013 teaching staff, who not only said goodbye to their students last Wednesday but also to their building, were first grade teachers Ardella Byerly and Terri Moeller, and second grade teachers Elly Lehs, Shelly Crandall, and Laurie Uhtoff.