Teachers stunned by Fairfield’s new Central Elementary

For teachers moving into their classrooms Monday at the new Fairfield Central Elementary it was a time travel kind of experience.

America’s President was Herbert Hoover in 1929 during the last time Central Elementary teachers got to move into new classrooms.

The old school was a beloved but decrepit, 88-year Fairfield icon whose time as an adequate learning structure passed years ago.

The popular facial expression of the day for instructors who once toiled in the ancient, cramped former school was wide-eyed excitement as they were allowed to begin work in setting up their classrooms.

“I walked into the building this morning and I was blown away by what I saw,” said fourth-grade teacher Karen Smith, who spent almost two decades teaching in the former Central that is now the beginnings of a parking lot for the new school after being demolished last month.

“It’s crazy and it’s fun and exciting. It’s so hard to describe what Central was like if you were never in it. You’re talking about old carpet that couldn’t be pulled up because there might be asbestos underneath, tiny classrooms. It was old and some areas of it was very dark. We couldn’t budge in old Central,” said Smith standing in her now spacious, bright and thoroughly modern classroom on the second floor of the new Central School.

Fellow teaching veteran Chelsey Lillie looked around her spotless new classroom and said “even the smell is new.”

Students “will be pretty amazed,” said Lillie.

So will their parents, said Central’s Principal Karrie Gallo, as she looked over the last stages of construction of the school’s open-air media center.

“We all have this new energy that is so awesome,” said Gallo.

“But I’m probably most excited about the seeing the looks on the kids who have spent time in the old Central building. Coming into this new state-of-the-art building they are going to be in awe,” she said. “They are going to fall in love immediately.”

The new school’s enrollment will be about half of old Central’s with about 550 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Half of the former school’s teachers will be at Fairfield’s other new elementary — the Compass school, across from Fairfield High School.

The two, nearly identical elementaries — and a new Fairfield Freshman School on the high school campus — are all part of an $80 million school construction project.

All schools in the Butler County district, which also draws students from Fairfield Township, will open on Sept. 5, which is later than normal to accommodate the finishing construction and set-up needs of the three new schools.

Billy Smith, superintendent of the 10,000-student district, said “it was very sad to say goodbye to Central Elementary after so many years of service to our students, staff, and community. That building was the keeper of so many fond memories for so many people.”

“However, we couldn’t be more excited about opening a state of the art building for our students and staff.”

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