One Last Look at Old Union School
Several years ago, I loaded up the minivan and drove my kiddos on a tour through my childhood neighborhood. They love a good story (or is it that I love to tell stories?) and enjoyed seeing the places they’d only heard about: the porch of my childhood home where I’d sit to watch storms, the “big” hill where I wiped out on my bike, and the neighborhood Dairy Whip where I ordered chocolate-dipped twist cones.
The pinnacle of the trip was to be the elementary school. Many of the family’s favorite stories were set in those cleanser-scented classrooms: smacking chalkboard erasers together with my friend Bud, the custodian; the heartbreaking spelling bee loss when I added an extra vowel to the word “jealousy;” and witnessing the tragic moment when NASA’s space shuttle exploded.
When we rounded the corner, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was gone. Leveled. Not even a sign of it. Where there used to be shiny tiled halls, a flagpole, and playground now there’s a grassy field.
It’s time to take a last look at the old Union School. The familiar brick structure in our neighborhood is coming down this month. Costly renovations and maintenance fees made the old building unusable.
The nearly 100-year-old structure is more than bricks and mortar—it’s one of the earliest symbols of this community’s commitment to educating our children and raising them up to value learning. It reflects the growth and expansion of our city and its population.
When we love a building, it’s because we love what happened in its halls. Our memories ring with the laughter and joy its walls contained, the relationships forged there, and the lessons learned. A school is the heart of a community. It’s where we meet lifelong friends, ignite an interest in a skill or art, and begin to discover who we are and where we are headed. For some of us, school is where we experience our first crush. For others, it’s where we first get into trouble and then guided to a better path. The historic significance of this special school is not in its structure, but in the many minds and lives that were shaped there.
My old elementary school no longer stands, but the stories are still pouring from its foundation. Old Union School will not be forgotten, but instead cherished in the stories of its students, teachers, administrators and local residents. History lessons taught us that sometimes we have to say goodbye to some good things to make way for the great things. Greatness awaits.
History lessons taught us that sometimes we have to say goodbye to some good things to make way for the great things. Greatness awaits.
Our goodbye to the hallowed halls of the old Union School is making way for a new structure that will safely house the Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty. There’s a place there for more laughter, lessons and stories.