Lockers emptied for the last time, light switches turned off and doors shut on three elementary schools.
Friday marked the last day of school for Adams Central East, Juniata and Wallace elementary schools.
Starting next fall, the students will be attending the new Adams Central Elementary School located just to the east of the now 50-year-old Adams Central Junior/Senior High School.
There were few tears and more excitement about what the future holds in the last days of school this May.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Deb Rodgers, a speech language pathologist at Wallace. “I’m looking forward to being in the new building. We need the space but it’s sad cause I’ve been here so many years. It is like a second home to me.”
Rodgers has taught at Wallace for more than 30 years and is now teaching the second generation of some families.
“I’m looking forward to moving together but I have tears as they’re leaving,” she said.
Most of the students are excited about the adventures they’ll have in the new building.
“We get lockers and the whole school is going to be combined,” said Juniata fifth-grader Alivia Gerloff. “We’ll have more friends to hang out with, friends you never see much.”
Classmate Kaleb Wahlmeier agreed that he’s excited about bringing everyone together.
“I love it because all my basketball and football teammates are going to be at school so I can hang out with them,” he said.
Adams Central East fifth-grader Cadence Svoboda said she’s excited for all the new classmates.
“I get a new teacher and I can make new friends,” she said. “I like making new friends.”
Elementary music teacher Kristin Lukow said for her it’s all happy as she doesn’t have a home base and now she’ll have one home for everyone.
“I’m not sure there is anything I am going to miss because we’re taking the children with us,” she said. “It’s having all my chicks in one nest.”
Currently Lukow travels between the three elementary schools taking materials with her. In the new building, she has a classroom and all the students there which means no more traveling.
“Now we’re all together,” she said. “It’s not so much about newness for me as it is about oneness. I love that.”
Juniata Elementary Principal Jennifer Pohlson won’t be following her students to the new elementary in the fall. Instead she is staying in her same building that will be operating next year as the Adams Central Early Childhood Center, which will be home to 95 preschool students. She also will continue to oversee all of the district’s special education programming.
“I’m excited for my new adventure of early childhood,” Pohlson said. “I’m sad and I’ll miss all these kids and working with my staff that I have here at Juniata because they’re awesome.”
A majority of the staff from the three schools will move to the new building later this summer.
Special education teacher Regina Lewis is one of those people and she’s excited for the change.
“Everybody coming together for one goal,” she said. “And I’ll have my own room. I share my room with three other people and now I’ll have my own room so that will be exciting.”
Juniata alumni and parent Laurel Prevett said the closing of the individual elementary schools is certainly bittersweet.
“I am sad and happy at the same time,” she said. “Sad because it’s the end of an era but excited for the change and excited for preschool to be in a bigger area and equally excited for the staff to all be in one building.”
Her son Landyn will be a third-grader when school opens next fall while her daughter Lillian will be moving from the current preschool program at Head Start to the new early childhood program at Juniata.
“This building will still be utilized, which is equally exciting,” Prevett said of Juniata.
The Adams Central elementary students were let out of school a few days ahead of the junior high and high school students to give teachers more time to pack up their classrooms.
Teachers and staff are set to move into the new building in mid-July. Classes begin Aug. 14.