It makes one really feel the time slipping by when the school buildings of one’s youth are no longer school buildings, and especially when they are no longer in existence in any form. This is true for me, as I’m sure it is for many others this week. It is for many Covington graduates, no doubt, an emotional time to see these halls of memories turn to rubble. A small, close-knit community like Covington is very connected to its school system and its school buildings.
Many of us had formative life events take place at these schools and on these school grounds. Graduation ceremonies, school yard fights, academic recognitions, detentions, musical performances, first kisses, and sporting events, just to name a few. Many Covington families have had four generations attend classes at the 25 Grant Street location. If only the walls could talk!
So it naturally is a difficult time for many community members to watch these hallowed corridors come down. Some cannot even bring themselves to drive by and look.
But a new school building has all the technology and modern amenities that early and mid-20th century buildings did not. They are well-designed, well-equipped, brand new, and seemingly sterile and ready to be broken in. There is not yet any wear and tear on the concrete, bricks, equipment, and mechanical systems. All is brand-new and ready for learning.
But I can only imagine that this was the same feeling in Covington in 1931 and 1956, when these now non-existent school buildings were erected. At one time these buildings were brand new, sterile, in perfect condition, and had replaced older facilities. They were just empty, freshly-painted halls, with anxious students ready to move into these new classrooms. So as the new bell system ushered in the school year in 1931, and again in 1956, the recollections of youth began being fashioned in young memory banks at these new schools. Over the next 85 years, how many events and memories were created in young minds at the high school and middle school at 25 N. Grant? And there were just a mere 60 years’ worth of events for the kids at 707 Chestnut St.
So although it is difficult to see the old buildings of our youth destroyed so quickly and effortlessly at the arm of a track hoe and blade of a bulldozer, it is not new to Covington. Schools in this village and township have been built and torn down before, after each had exhausted their useful years. I would imagine that the feelings about our old school buildings in 2016 are very similar to what Covington residents and graduates experienced in 1931 and 1956.
I will always remember my school days here in Covington with fond recollection. The memories will stay, although the buildings are no longer. I guess I prefer to optimistically look forward to potentially 85 years’ worth of wonderful memories yet to be made, by new generations of Covington students, in the soon-to-be hallowed halls of the new Covington Elementary and Junior High School.
If you would like to tour the new building, the school district is hosting a community open house on Sunday, Aug. 21, from 2-4 p.m. All residents are invited to tour the brand new K-8 facility. And bricks from both the middle and elementary schools will be available outside the fence at each demolition site. Why would one want an old rectangular piece of kiln-baked clay? Perhaps because they serve as a visual reminder of the great memories that took place inside these classrooms, hallways, and gymnasiums.
Got Covington news? Contact columnist Alex Moore by calling (937) 418-8884 or emailing [email protected]