It’s the second oldest school building in Butler County — opening its doors in 1929 — but today saw Central Elementary begin its journey into dust.
Demolition crews used a giant construction claw to tear away one corner of the former Fairfield school as a small crowd of teachers and residents watched from across Ohio 4.
It was bittersweet for them.
Though the school was outdated, cramped and inadequate for years for the growing, 10,000-student district, so many local residents spent part of their early school years during the school’s 88-year history and it housed many memories.
“It kind of hurt a little bit. It’s very sentimental,” said Central Elementary Principal Karrie Gallo, after watching the large excavator tear down the first walls.
“While we know we have exciting times coming, it’s also a little sad to leave a piece of your history and we have a lot memories that occurred in that building,” said Gallo. “It’s kind of sad to see it go down. It makes it final.”
The sweet part of the bittersweet was hidden from spectator view because directly behind the old Central school stands a nearly-completed, new Central Elementary.
Fairfield City Schools will soon experience what few Southwest Ohio school systems ever have — the district is opening three new schools in early September as part of a historic $80 million building project.
The district is also building the new Compass Elementary across from Fairfield High School and the Fairfield Freshman School on the high school campus.
“A lot of people don’t realize what’s been going on behind the building (Central) and once the building goes down and they see our new school, I think they will be really excited about what the next (school year) is going to bring for us,” said Gallo.
Jill Arent had two children attend the old Central school and while she’ll miss the old school, she’s excited about the new learning facilities that will soon be available to thousands of Fairfield students.
“It’s a new beginning for a lot of kids and a lot of teachers and a lot of new (learning) environments for them to be in so I’m very excited,” said Arent.
“I’m a little remorseful that an icon has to go, but in the same sense to me it’s all a new beginning,” she said.
The demolition will now switch to removal of interior drop-ceilings and other fixtures before resuming the tear down of the remaining exterior walls later this week.
The adjacent Fairfield Freshman School will also soon begin its demolition, said Fairfield officials.
Classes for Fairfield students will be starting later than normal for the 2017-2018 school year due to the demolition and construction work. Usually classes start in mid-to-late August, but for the coming school year they will begin Sept. 5.