CUYAHOGA FALLS, PENINSULA — It was a bittersweet day for students, alumni and teachers with the Woodridge Local School District.
On May 30, people could be seen strolling through the Woodridge Primary and Intermediate schools. They walked through the classrooms and hallways, which earlier in the month were bustling with students and staff and are now empty except for moving boxes piled high. Occasionally, shouts of joy were heard as someone ran into a favorite teacher or an old school chum. Many memories were shared that evening, as dozens came out to both schools to say a fond farewell.
Starting in the coming school year, the Woodridge Primary School on Northampton Road will become the new home of Summit Christian School, which teaches kindergarten through eighth grade.
Woodridge Intermediate School, located on Bronson Avenue in Peninsula, was sold in a collaboration with the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Heritage Classical Academy. The new Peninsula Campus will offer its Study Center for kindergarten through fifth grade twice a week, which, according to information from the HCA website, allows home-schooled students to attend. It also will have its Academy five days per week for kindergarten through eighth grade. Additionally, HCA will offer a preschool at the Peninsula Campus for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds.
Meanwhile, the district’s students who were or would have been at those buildings will step into the new Woodridge Elementary School at Quick and State roads for the 2018-19 school year.
Peninsula Mayor Douglas G. Mayer and his wife Kathy were among the alums who came out and shared their memories of attending the schools. They were touring the intermediate school, which was Boston Northampton Junior High School when they attended.
"The football games were awesome," said Kathy. "After the games, there were dances. When you were a teen or a preteen, that was exciting."
The mayor said he remembered the donkey basketball games.
"My older brothers were on the team," he said. "I remember the sight, the smell of them. You could push, pull or drag your donkey into place, but when you made a shot, you had to be on a donkey. It was a big event."
Scott Spillan, who graduated from Woodridge High School in 2002, showed his daughter Ainsley around the school he attended in fourth through sixth grade.
"This was the most exciting place," Spillan said to his daughter near the doorway which led outside. "We’d line up, single file, right here, waiting to go outside and play."
Another memory Spillan shared was winning the dodgeball tournament at the school when he was in sixth grade.
"That was my most fond memory here," he said.
One not so fond memory involved a library book, Spillan added.
"I accidentally threw the library book across the way," he said. "I was pretending the ball was a bat." He added that when he made a hit, he accidentally threw his "bat."
"I didn’t get into too much trouble," Spillan added.
Ellie Mezer-Cargould, who attended in 1967 and 1968 for seventh and eighth grade, said she remembered the dances.
"I remember the auditorium at lunch," Mezer-Cargould said. "There were records, 45-speed records. Once a week, we’d dance."
School Board President Tammy Heffernan, who graduated from Woodridge High School in 1972, said she was happy to see the number of people who came to visit and share their stories.
"It’s a big reunion," Heffernan said. "It’s really cool to see people of all ages."
Lynn Downs went to the Woodridge Primary School with longtime friend Cindy Powell and her daughter Kate, who graduated from Woodridge High School in 2015.
"She and I grew up together," Lynn Downs said.
"The carnivals here were the best," said Powell. "The tacos, the popcorn."
Lynn Downs said she liked growing up in a smaller district.
"The nice thing about the school system is it’s small enough so you know everyone," she said. "It’s sad to see it close, but we have some incredible memories. My kids are good friends with kids whose parents I went to school with."
"The Woodridge tradition continues through the generations," Powell said.
Karen Fratz, who graduated from the primary building in 1952, when it was called Northampton Elementary. Fratz said when she started at the school, she had just moved from Akron to the more rural Northampton area, which was a major adjustment for her.
"It was a very small building," she said. "There were 23 students in the eighth-grade class, and there was no high school."
Fratz said when she left the eighth grade, she had the option to attend either Hudson High School or Cuyahoga Falls High School. She chose Cuyahoga Falls High School.
One class she remembered taking at the elementary school was an agriculture class, Fratz said.
"We learned where to put your outhouse, where to put your well and where to put your garden," she said.
Larry Coffee, who took classes in the primary building from 1942 to 1949, said he had fond memories of the playground.
"I remember the playground really well," Coffee said. "We had a swingset, a teeter-totter and a sliding board. We used wax paper to go down the slide fast. We used wax paper for our lunches. The swings had a pivot on the top. If you were brave enough, you could do a 360 [degree loop]. Those were the good days."
Woodridge Primary School Principal Beth Harrington said that she loved the Halloween party and parade, and the second grade clap-out.
"The kindergarteners and first-graders line the hallways, and the second graders would go by them as they leave the building," Harrington said. "They would be clapped out."
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or ??@AprilKHelms_RPC??