November 26, 2023

WINTERSVILLE — Many former students reminisced about childhood experiences in the O.W. Buchanan School building after accepting an invitation from Indian Creek school officials to see it one last time, Friday.

The 69-year-old building is slated to be razed to accommodate the addition of a holding pond.

The pond will serve as a drainage structure for an expanded campus surrounding the new high school under construction nearby.

But before that can happen, school officials plan to sell hundreds of pieces of equipment and furniture from the building through an online auction held by KIKO Auctioneers of Canton, Ohio.

Eric Bevington, one of two auctioneers involved, confirmed there is no minimum bid for the items, which include a stove and commercial ovens from the cafeteria as well as folding and stackable chairs, desks, tables, filing and other cabinets and some audiovisual equipment.

Bevington said with the exception of larger pieces of equipment, an effort will be made to sell much of it in large lots to allow the school district to remain on schedule for a fall completion of the campus.

He said private schools and daycare centers often participate in such auctions, though he also recalled a group that shipped retired school furniture to Haiti as part of a mission.

The auction will be held March 16 to 21 through KIKO Auctioneers’ website, with winners expected to pick up their items at the school no later than 4 p.m. March 23.

Other details and photos of the many items can be found at the website.

John Belt, assistant superintendent of Indian Creek Schools, said 30 lockers from the school were donated to the Oglebay Institute for an art program for youth while some metal shelves were refurbished and painted by students at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School for use at Hills Elementary School.

Belt noted the building must undergo asbestos abatement before it can be demolished.

He said it’s slated to begin on March 28 and expected to take up to 60 days to remove the material because of the building’s structure and size.

He noted with four stories linked only by stairways, the school was never intended to be handicap-accessible.

That fact wasn’t lost on many older former students who visited on Friday, but a number were nonetheless happy to remember their old school days as they peeked into its more than 20 classrooms, the gym, library and other areas.

“These halls seemed so much longer when I was here. It seemed like you had to run forever to get to your classroom,” said Flora Lash Shoe of Wintersville, a 1978 graduate of Wintersville High School who attended Buchanan when it was a junior high school.

Opened in 1964, it became Wintersville Elementary School in 1999.

Shoe looked into the library, noting several computers stacked on a table.

“There were no computers in the library then. We didn’t know what a computer was,” she joked.

Poking her head into a classroom, she recalled it was where she learned history from Gene Evans, one of her favorite teachers.

It wasn’t her favorite subject, she said, but, “He had a way of making every student feel special.”

Sam Bezak of Cross Creek Township, a 1972 graduate of Mingo Junction High School, said his first days at the junior high school were “a culture shock” because he had come from a three-room schoolhouse with about 30 students to the bustling Buchanan school building with hundreds of students who filled its many halls and stairways.

But like Shoe, he fondly remembered past teachers, including Alberta Herrick, who taught English.

He added he was among students who arrived about 40 minutes early, just enough time to buy a doughnut, for 7 cents, at a nearby shop.

Bezak also remembered watching through classroom windows, billows of dark smoke emanating from the rooftop of the high school nearby because coal was used to heat it.

Bornnie Higgins Herringer, a 1969 graduate of Wintersville High School who came from Columbus to see her old school, said she was there both as a junior high schooler and in her senior year of high school, when business classes were taught there.

A new component of public education at the time, the courses included instruction in typing, shorthand, filing and other office skills, she noted.

Herringer also recalled playing flute in the school band and helping to form the drama club under the direction of a Mrs. Hughes.

She also remembered Bantam Ridge Elementary School, which was torn down recently to make room for Cross Creek Elementary School.

Construction of it and the new high school, as well as renovations to Hills Elementary School, were all funded with $45 million raised by a 6.1 mill bond issue supported by voters in 2018 and $18 million awarded by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

Herringer said of the new developments, “It’s nice to see all the changes and the new high school.”

(Scott can be contacted at [email protected].)

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