Fairfield’s two oldest schools gutted — happily

Two of Fairfield’s iconic school buildings are being gutted and few people are bemoaning their coming destruction.

That happens when two schools — with a combined age of 154 years — are being traded in for modern, state-of-the-art learning centers that will open for thousands of Fairfield elementary and freshmen students in early September.

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Workers are removing almost all parts worth saving from Central Elementary and the Fairfield Freshman School in preparation for next month’s demolition.

Fairfield Schools are in the final stages of constructing three new schools — two elementaries and a freshmen school — in time for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

This week, Central Elementary Principal Karrie Gallo walked the halls of Butler County’s second-oldest school, which opened in 1929, helping to empty the building while her mood shifted between nostalgia and eagerness to move on.

“I didn’t think I’d be quite as emotional as I am,” said Gallo.

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Emptying a school building of 88 years of accumulations has at times “been an overwhelming task,” said Gallo.

“It has definitely consumed my life for the last couple of months,” she said.

Easing the historic transition is the proximity of the new Central Elementary, which is being constructed on the same campus about 20 yards behind where the current building sits.

Also being gutted is the adjacent Fairfield Freshman School, which opened in 1951.

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The two schools were connected by an underground hallway, which is just one of the many things Gallo said she and her staffers will not miss.

“We have never had a kitchen for our (Central) student cafeteria. Our food has always been cooked at the Freshman School, boxed up, and (delivered) to Central. While our kitchen staff always did the best they could to make the best possible lunches for our students, I am looking forward to not running out of food and having food stay hot throughout the lunch periods,” she said.

The new Freshman School is rising next to Fairfield High School. The new Compass Elementary is across Holden Boulevard from the high school.

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Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith said the 10,000-student district is on the cusp of a new era of updated school facilities.

“Each day, we are getting closer and closer to opening three new buildings for our students, staff and community. There have been so many wonderful memories made in each of those buildings. At the same time, people could not be more excited to have new buildings and facilities for our students, staff and community,” said Smith.

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