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Piece of old East school stolen

July 20, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A plan to saw the painted bulldog mascot from the old East Junior High School gym floor and save it for posterity was thwarted by vandals who got to it first, a school maintenance employee said Monday.

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Dwight Needham, who works for the Waynesboro Area School District, said someone entered the old school building on East Main Street with a chainsaw during the night Thursday and cut the bulldog out of the wooden floor. It was a hack job that probably destroyed the mascot in the process, Needham said.

Needham said the painted bulldog image was supposed to have been carefully cut out in one piece from the hard maple gym floor, then framed under glass for some appropriate future display.

Members of the Waynesboro Area Business, Education and Community Foundation, whose goal is improving education in the district, are trying to collect some of the old lights, fixtures and bricks from the school to sell as nostalgic artifacts.

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East Junior High opened in 1937 as a high school. It became a junior high school in 1962 and closed for good in 1989. It was bought at public auction in 1990 for $500,000 by Waynesboro Hospital and has been empty since.

When Summit Health, which owns Waynesboro and Chambersburg hospitals, announced it would raze the old building, it drew a barrage of protests from the local historical society and from generations of residents who went to school there, both in high and junior high.

Demolition crews began tearing into the building last week after putting a chain-link fence around it.

When demolition workers left at the end of the workday Thursday, the gym floor was still intact, Needham said. The vandalism was discovered Friday morning, he said. "They must have crawled over or under the fence to get in," he said.

Had the mascot been saved, it wouldn't have been a first for Waynesboro.

Borough Mayor Louis Barlup said a painting of an American Indian on the gym floor in the current Waynesboro Area Senior High School was cut out and framed under glass when that building was renovated 12 years ago. A new gym was built and the old one was converted into the library, Barlup said. He was principal of the high school at the time.

The framed work hangs in the gym today.

Barlup said the bulldog was the mascot of the long-defunct Washington Township High School and later of the Washington Township Middle School before it was adopted by East Junior High.

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