By Susan Tebben
Another era in Austintown schools came to an end with a farewell open house Thursday night at Woodside Elementary.
The school, built in 1948, will be demolished as new schools are constructed to house the elementary and intermediate students.
Principal Denny Rice greeted the current and past students and teachers, and he remembered his own time at the school, which he said was a “neighborhood school.”
“The great part about this school is watching the kids walking down the sidewalk to come into the school,” said Rice, whose office window faces the entrance walkway.
The walk to school is something familiar to the students and teachers.
“Everyone used to walk to school because it used to be all the children from the neighborhood going here,” said Patti Griffin, who went to the school in the late 1950s and taught kindergarten there as well.
When the school opened, it was not completely full because of a shortage of teachers, and students were filling the school even before the grass on the lawn had grown.
“I remember they put the grass seed down with this weird device around their shoulders and we [students] would all go to the windows to watch them throwing it out there,” said Dr. Tom Stellers, who was a student in a class of about 40 at Woodside in 1949, 1950 and 1951. Stellers is now a member of the Austintown Board of Education.
When he went to the school, what is now the main office was the library, and the teachers didn’t have to worry about standardized testing or state curriculums.
The school wasn’t even completely welcome, he added.
“When Woodside was built, nobody wanted it because this whole area was blackberry bushes,” Stellers said. “People thought it was going to disrupt the neighborhood, but now everyone is sad to see it go.”
Rice said students in all grades were recognized, and parties at the end of the year sent the school out with celebration.
“We wanted to make this last year really special,” Rice said.