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Alumni walk through Evans City Elementary one last time

Ronald McCormick, of Forward Township, and his daughter, Kathy Senn, find photos in old yearbooks during the Memory Tours event at Evans City Elementary/Middle School on Monday in Evans City. McCormick graduated in 1954 and Senn in 1979, from the school that is closing this June. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle 5/7/22

EVANS CITY — Past students young and old walked the halls of their alma mater, Evans City Elementary/Middle School, for the last time Monday evening.

Families strolled decorated halls, connected with classmates and told stories about their time in the school before its final bell.

Fourth-grader Adam D’Biagio talks to 1954 graduate Ronald McCormick, of Forward Township, during the Memory Tours event at Evans City Elementary/Middle School on Monday in Evans City. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle 5/7/22

Anticipating the school’s closure in June, school faculty decided to open the doors for alumni to reminisce and reflect on their time in the building.

Tracy Dentel, third-grade teacher and former student at the school, said the building was originally a high school founded in 1938. Having been in the building 28 years, she was excited to see so many alumni coming through the doors.

“It’s a great way to revisit memories,” she said of the event. “As a student, I remember different things as I walk the halls every day, different things you seemed to forget.”

Generational learning

Current students of Evans City researched the decades the school was in session and decorated the halls with their findings. People could read about popular entertainment, cars, clothes and events that occurred while they attended the school.

In the library, videos of those who attended Evans City High School in the 1940s and 1950s shared their stories for those passing by. There even was a separate video with testimonies of teachers who went to school and eventually taught in the building.

Photos, yearbooks, jerseys and letterman jackets were displayed on tables to spark memories and find familiar faces.

Fifth-grader Graci Gordon looks at a wall with designs for the new Ehrman Crest Elementary/Middle School during the Memory Tours event at Evans City Elementary/Middle School on Monday. “It’s really cool here,” said Gordon of the school she has attended since kindergarten. But Gordon added she is looking forward to going to the new school next year. “I’m excited for the air conditioning, and being in bigger and cooler classrooms.” Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle 5/7/22

Ronald McCormick, who graduated from Evans City High School in 1954, explored the yearbooks with his daughter, Kathy Senn, who graduated from the district in 1979.

McCormick said it was interesting to be back in the school, as it is “totally different” from when he attended.

“I came from a one-room schoolhouse and started here in eighth grade,” he said. “It was so big, I was scared I wouldn’t find my way around.”

He added that his favorite subject was history, and the greatest lesson he learned was respect for his teachers.

Kathy Voltz, of Jackson Township, and Jeanne Graham, of Evans City, look at photos from when they attended the school during the Memory Tours event at Evans City Elementary/Middle School on Monday. Voltz and Graham, who both graduated in 1973, said they have been friends since third grade. “We had a lot of good times here,” said Voltz. “We’re sad to see it go.” Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle 5/7/22

“Our football coach and gym teacher, you learned from him how to behave yourself,” McCormick said. “My favorite memories are the friends I had. My class wasn’t big, everyone got along. We were good friends.”

In the schoolyard
Ronald McCormick, of Forward Township, and his daughter, Kathy Senn, find photos in old yearbooks during the Memory Tours event at Evans City Elementary/Middle School on Monday in Evans City. McCormick graduated in 1954 and Senn in 1979, from the school that is closing in June. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle 5/7/22

Janine Pittman, of Beaver, said she attended Evans City School from kindergarten in 1959 until her eighth-grade year.

“It’s so exciting, it’s been a blast,” she said. “I think friendships were really cemented here. People I’m still friends with today.”

Pittman recalled how different the playground was when she attended: a blacktop with two sets of monkey bars, one for boys and one for girls.

“We wore dresses to school back then,” she said. “One memory I have is there was an airplane near the football field we could play on. It was there for years.”

Martine Devine, of Ross Township, explores old memorabilia during the Memory Tours event at Evans City Elementary/Middle School, which she attended around 46 years ago, on Monday in Evans City. The event — which will also be open Wednesday the 11th, Saturday the 14th, and Monday the 16th — offered alumni the chance to revisit school, decorated with art and information from current students. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle 5/7/22

Childhood friends Kathy Voltz and Jeanne Graham said they also recalled the full-size airplane, which was acquired by a teacher, Phil Hershey.

“We were able to climb into the cockpit, it was so much fun,” Voltz said.

The two attended Evans City school from first to fifth, and seventh and eighth grades, having been moved to Zelienople Elementary School for sixth grade.

Voltz said they still remember the names of all their teachers.

“It’s to reminisce and to see what the halls looked like. We were trying to remember the room numbers, walking the halls, it all came back,” she said.

Voltz and Graham added there were important things they remembered about their experience in the building.

“I learned my love of reading at this school,” Voltz said.

“Everyone was pretty equal. There weren’t cool kids,” Graham said. “You were friends with everyone.”

Bill King, who attended school with Pittman, said it was emotional being back in the building.

“It’s bittersweet, because it’s our last time walking through it,” he said.

Principal Laurie Pendred said the school board will decide what happens to the Evans City Elementary/Middle School building at a future meeting.

Current students of the school will be moved to Ehrman Crest Elementary/Middle School, which is being constructed on Ehrman Road.

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