Hempfield schools book last hurrah
BY COLLEEN DORSEY, Correspondent
Before Hempfield School District closes two buildings for a final time in June, the public is invited to celebrate 60 years of heritage at an open house.
Officials will welcome visitors to East Petersburg Elementary from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and to Farmdale Elementary from 1 to 3 p.m. May 11.
"We want to pay homage to the fact that they served us well," said Jessie Long, community relations director. "We want to let people walk through the halls, take pictures and reminisce. That's what it's about."
The buildings from the 1950s will be replaced with the fourth and fifth identical structures in the district, preceded by Mountville Elementary, Rohrerstown Elementary and Landisville Intermediate Center. The practice allowed the district to save on architectural and engineering costs.
The new East Petersburg and Farmdale schools are scheduled to open in the fall.
During the open house at East Petersburg, 5700 Lemon St., and Farmdale, 695 Prospect Road, the halls will be decorated with old photos, and student ambassadors will offer tours. Hempfield Foundation will take orders for bricks to be salvaged after the buildings are demolished starting in June, with proceeds benefiting the district.
Farmdale Principal Rachel Martin is expecting a big turnout of faculty, students and neighbors.
"There are so many sentimental memories and values here in the old building. But on the other hand, we'll have a brand new building with brand new facilities and room to grow," Martin said. "It's still going to be an emotional time for everyone, but everyone's really starting to look forward to the new building."
East Petersburg Principal Kim Rauscher said, "We have quite a few families who have generations of family members who have gone through this building and have been educated here, and we're very excited that the community can come together.
"It's a celebration of a place that has been very special and near and dear to the hearts of so many people for a very long time," she said.
At East Petersburg, plans to preserve key aspects of the old building and campus will include a bell, two sculptures, the cornerstone and a collection of dedicated bricks from the front walkway.
"That will be a part of remembering that which was very special here and also incorporating that part of our history and tradition into our new building," Rauscher said.
Both new schools are scheduled to open for the upcoming school year. Officials said it would have cost the district at least $1 million more per school to renovate than to build new.
Dan Forry, Hempfield director of enterprise and operations, said that the more renovations a building undergoes, the more difficult each renovation becomes.
"There are a lot of unknowns when you get into a building like that. What's there, what's behind walls, is the wall the way it's really supposed to be," he said. "Whereas, if you're starting with a brand new building, (you) have complete control from the ground up."
The new buildings also will "have more square footage but will probably see a 20 percent reduction in electric usage and utility usage," Forry said.
"The (new) cafeteria itself is probably three times the size of our little teeny cafeteria," Martin said. "It's space that is greatly needed for us here."
Rauscher said, "As our children have had the opportunity to watch out the window and see their new school being built, and as we talk about some of the new opportunities that we have ... there's a sense of excitement. It's definitely a new beginning."