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Saying farewell to Coldbrook Elementary

August 15, 2010|By DANA BROWN
  • Richard Snyder, the head fifth-grade teacher at the former Coldbrook Elementary School in Chambersburg, Pa., gets in the dunk tank at the request of his former students Sunday during a festival organized by the school's PTA to bid farewell to the school.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Students, teachers and parents gathered to say goodbye to Coldbrook Elementary School in Chambersburg on Sunday.

The school was closed at the end of the 2009-10 school year after Chambersburg Area School District officials estimated they would need to budget $1 million over the next two years to maintain the building, which was built in 1954.

The students from Coldbrook will attend Falling Spring Elementary or Andrew Buchanan Elementary, officials said previously.

As a school building, Coldbrook Elementary is nearly emptied of all traces of its former purpose. But on Sunday, the halls and classrooms buzzed with new life as those who gathered took one final look at a place that holds some of their fondest memories.

"I loved it here," said Patrick Yocum of Hanover, Pa..

He attended Coldbrook between 1976 and 1981.

"Some of the greatest times of my life were here," he said. "Once I found out this was happening, I definitely wasn't going to miss it."

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Former Coldbrook PTA president Amy Misal organized the three-hour farewell event, which was held on the school grounds.

"This school meant a lot," Misal said. "There was no doubt we were going to do something."

Misal expected about 300 people to attend the event, which also featured carnival games, food and ice cream vendors, music and a dunk tank.

"It's a special day," she said. "There's been an overwhelming response."

The school building was open for one final tour.

"It's kind of sad seeing it all empty. I remember seeing everybody in here," said Colby Rosenberry, 11.

Gabriella Lecuona, 9, said the event was "awesome but sad."

"It's changed a lot without the stuff in it," said Kyndal Connor, 7.

Lori and Tom Schaffer of Fayetteville, Pa., who both attended Coldbrook as kids, returned for a final farewell.

"It was a good school. There are a lot of fond memories here," Lori Schaffer said.

"Nothing but fond memories," Tom Schaffer added.

As they toured the building, the couple spotted Joan Bowen, the school's librarian from 1976 to 1985.

"Did you see the library curtains?" Bowen said, referring to her display of several white curtains decorated with book characters done by former Coldbrook students. She had a list of the 229 students, the characters they crafted and the year each one added his or her design.

"It's nice to return and meet some former students and give them one last time to look at their book character," she said. "It was their legacy as they left fifth grade."

Charlene Van Scyoc taught third grade at Coldbrook for 21 years and was known to her students as "Mrs. V.," she said. She also was a student at Coldbrook.

Van Scyoc said she had "mixed emotions."

"It's bittersweet," she said. "But it's nice to have this closure."

Carol Smith of Mercersburg, Pa., was one of the first students to enter Coldbrook elementary when it opened in 1955.

"We thought it was pretty nice," she said. But she added that she was "shocked" by the current condition of the school.

"I was always proud to say I went to Coldbrook school," Smith said. "A lot of good learning happened here."

Drew Nelson, Coldbrook principal for the last three years, said the farewell event was "the way to do it. They are having a good time. We'll close with a big bang."

Nelson said most usable items have been removed from the building and are intended for use at other schools within the district.

Only a few items remained, including a lone banner still taped to an empty classroom wall. The banner read, "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."

Seemingly it was the motto for day.

"We're going to move on and everything will be OK," Misal said. "Though we're sad, we're getting positive closure and ending this on the highest note today."

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