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Old Building Demolished


Making Room for Progress

77-year old Newport Elementary School demolished

By Wayne Towner, Staff Writer for the Muskingum Valley Review, Sunday, June 16, 2002

            As about 50 people watched with mixed emotions…heavy machines spent Monday morning tearing down the main portion of Newport Elementary School, a 77-year old piece of Newport’s history.  Lolanne Hale has been a teacher at the school for 24 years and said she felt both sadness and joy as she watched the building reduced to rubble.

            “It’s sad in a way, but in a way it’s really great to see the progress that’s going to be made in this community and for our kids.  It’s exciting,” she said.  “I’ve been in the new building three or four times, and it’s wonderful.  It’s going to be really exciting for the kids and the staff to have a new building.”

            A $24.5 million [dollar] project—utilizing both state and local funds—is providing new elementary schools for Newport and New Matamoras and extensive renovations at Frontier High School, including the construction of a cafeteria, five classrooms and a district bus garage.

            Since construction work began in August 2001, most of the construction and renovations work in the district either is on or ahead of schedule, Frontier Schools Superintendent Harold Carl said.  The elementary school was scheduled for completion in November, but should be ready by the beginning of the school year in late August, he said.  The high school renovation work should be completed in November.

            Hale said the building demolished Monday was built in 1925.  For many years, it has served as the school for the younger children from kindergarten through fourth grade at Newport.  The new school is nearly completed and will be much more state-of-art, she said.  It will have televisions in each classroom, telephone intercoms, a media center, computers in every room, a science lab and many other features.

            Hale said the old school had long reached the point where it needed replaced.  “We would have snow come in around the windows in the winter time.  You’d freeze to death one day and burn up the next day.  There was plaster falling off the ceilings.  It was time for it to go,” she said.

            Another building across the street provided classrooms for fifth through eight graders and was commonly called the “junior high” building.  It is even older than the elementary building and was built in 1917.  For many years, it was known as Newport High School. 

            Newport Principal Bill Wotring said the junior high building is scheduled for demolition in August after asbestos abatement work is done in the building. Wotring said Monday’s demolition work will clear the way for the final construction of the new school’s gymnasium.  After the junior high building is demolished later this summer, it will become a parking area, he said. 

            Frontier district officials have decided to keep and maintain the third building in the Newport school complex, the school’s gymnasium.  It will continue to be made available to the community at large for events and programs and will effectively double the amount of gym space available in Newport once the new building is completed, he said.

            For many people in the Newport community, their history and connections to the old school can run deep.

            Judy Murphy, the secretary at Newport School, has been involved with the school for most of her life.  Murphy attended the school herself as a child and her parents attended the old Newport High School.  She also has children and grandchildren who have attended the school throughout the years.

            In addition, members of her family have served the school as adults, including a brother who worked as the district superintendent, an uncle who served as Newport’s first basketball coach and an uncle and her father who each served on the district’s school board.

            “My family’s always been connected with the school in some way,” she said.

            Murphy was experiencing mixed emotions as she watched the demolition work Monday.  She said she was sad to see the old school going but also was happy to see the new school and other changes. 

            “Our kids deserve it, they really do,” Murphy said.

            “They have a right to learn in an environment that’s comfortable.  It’s going to be a nice school, really nice,” she said.

            A similar scene is expected to occur in New Matamoras in the near future.  Carl said the schedule calls for the old elementary school in New Matamoras to be demolished in about two weeks.