SCOTLAND, Pa. — Boxing up the last remains of the Scotland School for Veterans Children was a sad day for the president of the school's alumni association.
"It makes me feel about the same as the day we were told that the school was closing — devastated," James Lowe said.
For Lowe, Wednesday's auction at the school seemed more like a family estate sale rather than a state property auction conducted by the Department of General Services.
"We were educated here, but this was our home. When other children got off the school bus; and went home to their parents, this was our home. We went to our house parents," Lowe said.
The school was closed by the state after the class of 2009's graduation because of budget concerns. Today, the 183 acres and 70 buildings are vacant, maintained by a skeleton staff.
Alumni Association Secretary Sally Sheaffer attended Scotland School from 1956-1965.
"It's pretty sad to lose what many of us consider our home," Sheaffer said.
But, she didn't plan to bid on any items.
"The best thing that I have from Scotland are memories, and the contacts that I still have with other kids (alumni)," Sheaffer said.
About 100 people bid on more than 150 lots totaling thousands of items, including lathes, milling machines, woodworking equipment, school desks, school supplies, athletic equipment, microscopes and computers.
The auction, which began at 9 a.m., was expected to last the entire day in order to go through items at six locations on campus, according to Joan Nissley, spokesperson for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
But, liquidating the school's assets got a little behind schedule in the first building. The auction company, Asset Auctions of New Brighton, Pa., was still going through building one at 12:30 p.m.
"Things are selling. There are a lot of good buys," Nissley said.
Former Chambersburg Area Middles School principal Thomas Todd stopped by the auction to pick up some odds and ends.
When asked what was in the boxes he was taking to his vehicle, Todd responded: "A lot of junk."
He purchased 35 pieces of interlocking padding for his grandchildren.
"I got a whole box of calculators and rulers which I'm going to donate. I got art paper and stuff to keep the kids busy," he said.
James Kirby of Chambersburg couldn't believe what he and his daughter Courtney, 10, bought with $5 at the auction.
With $5 he got an unopened Gateway computer, tables, cabinets and miscellaneous items.
"I'm pretty sure I could sell this computer for $100 right off the bat and the rest of it just tables and cabinets," said Kirby. "I wish I had enough money to buy this whole place. I just love the architecture work. It's a neat place."
Jason Cotton, assistant head track coach at James Buchanan High School, was looking for bargains for the JB athletic program as well as his private pole vault club.
He was looking for a pole vault mat and spied one outside Scotland's gymnasium.
"I feel like I'm on Storage Wars (the A&E television series)," Cotton said.
He said he understands why the state made the decision to close the school.
"The buildings are in bad enough shape that it would have taken a ton of money to get this place fixed up," he said.
On Wednesday, Linda Steck of Chambersburg, Pa., took a day off from her job as a second-grade teacher at Greencastle-Antrim Primary School to return to her former fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms at Scotland.
"This is sickening," Steck said. "Things are going so cheap, and there's a lot of hard earned money and time spent into things that it just seems like it is just going down the drain."
She walked away with some picture books for Greencastle, but was shocked to see Scotland's bones get picked over.
"I hope that it (Scotland School) ends up being something with the veterans in some fashion," Steck said. "The worst thing would be if they just tore it all down."
While the future of the campus remains in question, state Sen. Richard Alloway said he still has a plan for the 115-year-old campus.
"I, along with Representatives (Todd) Rock and (Rob) Kauffman, are working to create a campus for veterans returning from war whereby they can get health care, counseling and job training to help them find a good job and get back into society," Alloway wrote in an email Wednesday.
He continued: "I fully support the ... project to reintegrate veterans. The project is moving slower than I would like, but it is due to limited resources. We are trying to identify private money instead of relying on tax dollars."