By Ed Runyan
Two strong images of Washington Elementary School on Hartzell Avenue stand out in the memory of Marcia Crain, who attended the school as a youngster in the 1960s.
“I learned not to speak until I raised my hand,” she said Tuesday as she toured the building one last time before its eventual demolition.
One of her teachers at Washington, which served over the years as a high school, junior high and elementary, made an impression on her one day by teaching her a lesson about raising her hand.
“I had to hold a book like this for 40 minutes,” she said, demonstrating both hands straight out, palms upward. “I was in fourth grade, and I never forgot it. It was great. It was a great memory.”
Crain, who attended the walk-through with her sister, Jill, said the school was a good learning environment as it symbolized discipline.
Part of that symbol was the grand design of the building’s facade — complete with the words “Morality,” “Industry,” “Liberty,” and “Education,” along with an image of George Washington, the words “Washington Junior High School” and the year it was built — 1924 — on the front.
Crain’s second strong recollection is of walking up the steps toward the entrance after getting off the school bus in the morning and looking up at the building before entering.
“When I saw that grand building and the architecture — I remember looking up at the 1924 — the grand elegance of it,” she said.
The school district had walk-throughs for the Washington building and the Jackson building on Emma Street on Tuesday. Both buildings will be demolished as the school district opens two new buildings for the upcoming school year.
The high school was demolished earlier this summer.
Anna Pascarella Jones, who has lived near the school for 16 years and attended it for one year in the 1950s, says she found it pleasant to walk past the school years ago and hear children inside reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “America the Beautiful.”
Several years ago, she noticed the children don’t do it anymore.
Jones said she agrees with Crain in that discipline was a more- valued concept when she went to the school than in more recent years.
“I hate to see it go, but everything gets old and has to be replaced,” Jones said of the old school.
Adam Mostoller, who attended the school from kindergarten through third grade in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said being there brought back memories.
“I didn’t have any memories until I got here, and little by little, they came back. Everything looks so small now,” he said.
He lived near the school then, and he remembers that his parents would “walk us to school every day,” he added.
Mary Warner of Niles attended the school in the 1960s and early 1970s, then her three children attended, and then two grandchildren.
“You hate to let go, but the kids deserve better,” she said of her grandchildren having two new schools to attend this year.
Her 9-year-old granddaughter, Reyhan Davis, said she’s already looking forward to the new playground at her school on Margaret Street, the new gymnasium and an art room, something Washington didn’t have.
The school district is using Basinger Auction Service to conduct an online auction of desks, tables and other items from the school. It is going on now at www.basingerauctions.com.