Final open house held at Union Elementary

| May 6, 2019

Linda Wells (far left) was one of several former teachers who came out to Union Elementary School for its final open house. The school will close at the end of this year and students will be sent to Warsaw Elementary School. Josie Sellers | Beacon

PERRY TOWNSHIP – Linda Wells hasn’t taught at Union Elementary School for 19 years, but the school is still very dear to her.

“The teachers are still all my friends,” she said. “We were like family. The staff was so supportive of each other.”

Wells taught at the River View elementary school from 1994 to 2000 and came back to visit for an open house held on May 5. The public was invited to tour the school one last time before it closes at the end of this school year.

“I’m sad they are closing the school, but I get it,” Wells said. “I love this school. I hope someone buys it and turns it into a community center so the people here can still use it and appreciate it.”

Bee Lehner also taught at the school for several years and was enjoying visiting with former students and parents of students.

“I was here from 1974 to 1984,” she said. “I enjoyed the ride out there because it gave me time to get my thoughts together for the day. The parents here were always a lot of help. Anytime we needed volunteers they were here.”

Don Conard and his family came all the way from the Columbus area to see Union one last time.

“I started here in 1941 and graduated (from high school) in 1944,” he said. “I went into the Navy four days after graduation. I enlisted when I was 17 and still in school. This was a very good school. My Latin teacher was super. They were all great.”

Conard said he grew up three miles up the road from Union. His dad, J.M. (John Milton) Conard was president of the Union Rural School District. One of Don’s children said he remembers going up on the hillside with his dad when they were trying to decide where the school should sit and which direction it should face.

River View High School students Andrew Martin and Emma Anderson both went to elementary school at Union. Martin’s mother is a kindergarten teacher there and they were helping serve cake in the cafeteria to those who attended the open house.

“I remember Union being a lot bigger than it actually is,” Martin said. “You felt like you were at home here though, not like you were at school. It was a nice small, local school.”

Anderson said she was sad to see the lower building at Union shut down.

“It’s still Union though and there are a lot of memories here,” she said. “It was a family atmosphere. You weren’t anxious about class or friends. You knew everyone.”

In the gym, attendees could leave well wishes for retiring staff members Susie Stout and Toni Lee, purchase old yearbooks and pickup old photos.  Lee, secretary at the school, was standing in the middle of the gym amazed by how many people came out to reminisce.

“My dad graduated from here, my in-laws graduated from here, my husband went here, I went here and our kids went here,” Lee said. “I started at the school as an aid then when the secretary before me had health issues I filled in for her. She ended up retiring and I’ve been here ever since for the past 19 years. I’m seeing people from all generations today. I have to stop and think if I went to school with them, if they went to school with my kids or they were in school when I was working here.”

Principal Sheri Fortune was happy with the turnout at the open house.

“I’ve seen a lot of smiles,” she said. “I’m thrilled we were able to do this for people. I’ve heard a lot of people saying they remember when something happened and how amazing the staff was.”

All of the staff members had on shirts that said Union staff is family and the school also was able to give current students t-shirts celebrating their time at the school.

“All the years I’ve been with the district and even when I was in social work I knew there was something special about Union,” Fortune said. “Union is about family. We wanted to promote that this year because it is part of the school’s tradition.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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