DANVILLE — Generations of families gathered at Garfield Elementary School Wednesday night to reminisce and say goodbye to the school they and their children attended.
“I’m going to miss it,” said Tarnell Young. He said it’s been a wonderful neighborhood school.
The school, which dates back to 1903, will close at the end of next week when the 2021-2022 school year ends.
A Garfield Tribute Celebration open house was Wednesday night. There was cake, food trucks, face painting, bubbles and other activities outside. Inside the gym, there were displays of photos from classes and Christmas programs and other school events and activities through the years. There were some cups and other memorabilia for sale, in addition to speed painting on the stage by John Jansky.
Young attended Garfield in the early 1980s and brought with him two daughters to the open house Wednesday night, 16-year-old Mariah and 13-year-old Karlyn.
They enjoyed looking at the pictures on poster boards of Garfield students and staff through the years. All three said they have a lot of good memories of the principals, teachers, classmates and school activities.
Young, who also lives nearby, said he has six children who attended Garfield. He has memories as a parent, but also as a student himself.
He remembers playing kickball, football and other sports in front and back of the school.
In addition to families, Danville District 118 Superintendent Alicia Geddis, other D118 administrative staff, school board members and current and past school employees, in addition to other Danville residents were on hand at the tribute celebration.
School board member Tyson Parks said of the event, “what a heartfelt tribute to what Garfield has been.”
Garfield Principal Nicole Zaayer thanked community members for attending, and the staff for organizing it.
The school is closing due to an estimated $13 million in building code and health and safety repairs needed including for its leaking walls and plumbing.
The school will become a community outreach center.
Some ideas about what the building will be used for: homelessness grant storage for McKinney Vento Service Center for health and hygiene items, cleaning supplies, clothing, bedding and household items; summer programming opportunities supply room for summer camps and college and career activities and for grant-funded supplies and materials to supplement the district curriculum; building and grounds usage for additional warehouse storage and staging area for construction projects; district usage for school supplies and curricular materials needing a climate-controlled environment; and food service usage for a community food pantry.
The school district has no place to store some items because its large warehouse is already full.
Also Thursday, Meade Park Elementary School hosted a lunch on the lawn at Meade Park and also had an open house for parents and students who will be coming from Garfield to Meade Park next school year.
Meade Park Principal Chris Rice said the school, which had housed kindergarten through fifth grade prior to Cannon Elementary School closing, now has two or three classrooms each of K-4th grade.
With the addition of the Garfield students, they will have three classrooms and teachers for each grade level.
Two Garfield teachers also are coming to Meade Park. Other Garfield teachers are going Liberty or other schools.
Liberty Elementary School is to see 111 Garfield students this fall. Liberty will have the Garfield students living on the east side of Logan Avenue and the north side of English Street; while Meade Park will have the students living on the west side of Logan Avenue and the south side of English Street. Kindergarten numbers had been estimated.
Garfield and Meade Park students got to meet each other, ate lunch together and danced to some music on Thursday. Meade Park teachers and staff welcomed the Garfield students as they got off their two buses. The students will be welcomed back in August.