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Friday, March 2, 2018

Community Says Farewell To Moyer With Notes of Gratitude

Students, teachers, staff and the community wrote fond farewell notes to Moyer Elementary's beloved walls.
 Throughout the decades the walls in Moyer Elementary have supported the education of thousands of students. From blackboards to white boards, and pull-down maps to digital projections, in many ways Moyer's walls have been the one constant, despite curriculum changes, technological advances and physical additions.

But now, many of the walls are being torn down to make room for new walls—walls that will house decades of new students and teachers, the same lessons taught in different ways, the beloved books,  the dreaded quizzes, the backpacks, the paints, the pencil sharpeners, the crayons, the recorders, the worksheets, the iPads, the trays at lunch.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. 
Perhaps that's partially why so many schools' halls are called hallowed. For even when the buildings are torn down the roots in the ground run deep, filled with the history of education. And above, the public school promise sits, always ready to teach.

And so, the students and staff at Moyer are expressing their gratitude through notes, quite literally written on the walls.

"This happened organically," says Dawn Laber, Moyer's principal.

"Teachers wanted to thank our walls for keeping us safe and making our kids happy, so they wrote notes. Kids asked if they could do the same. Before long, every inch was filled with thoughts and sentiments from prior students, parents, teachers, current students, and classified and certified staff. We all just wanted to express our feelings and it took flight."

Laber says every wall, corner, stairwell and classroom have been filled with notes. "We just wanted to express our gratitude for our old building and all the memories we shared," she says. "It was obvious the students and adults put a lot of thought into their words. We all loved reading them and writing them. Every day a new one popped up and was more sentimental than the next."

One of Moyer's custodians, pretending to be the school, even tried to write back to the teachers who wrote on the walls, Laber says. "That prompted others to have some fun with the messages."

Moyer Elementary has completed phase 1 and 2 of construction. After moving out of half their building two years ago, Laber says students and staff moved into mobiles while the back half of the old building was torn down. "When this half was completed, we moved some teachers into their new rooms and moved the front half out to to the mobiles," Laber says. "The front half was then renovated and that is scheduled to be completed this year—spring break."

Once that portion of the construction project is done the teachers will move back into the school and construction on the back parking lot and creating a new car loop will begin. "Everything is scheduled to be complete by the start of the 2018-2019 school year," Laber says.

How has everyone handled the challenges that come with a major construction project while school is in session? "I think they are doing awesome," Laber says. "We have had many challenges and have been forced to move our car line multiple times. Walking up and down James and the back hill to get to school has been really hard but we are making it work. Moving mid-year isn't fun for anyone but we did it without missing any classroom instruction and with a smile—most of the time!" 

Moyer Elementary's walls being torn down, making room for new walls and new decades of education.

The notes written on Moyer's former walls will be gone when the building is complete. "It was more of a right of passage or a way to grieve the old and welcome the new," Laber says.

Moyer's walls and school grounds have hid a lot of history over the years. "It has been fun to watch the old come back out," Laber says. "The lines from the original gym were exposed when renovating the library. We [also found] an old bell in a tree. The kids saw it from their classroom window and Mr. Mike went out and took it down. We assumed it was used when the land was a field and it was the way the teachers called their classes in from the field. We found some old yearbooks, handwritten, and some old coins from other countries we gave to our world language teacher." 

While FTIS School Board Member John Weyer didn't attend Moyer, his wife, Tonya, did, as well as his four children. As an involved parent while his children were at Moyer from 2001 to 2013, he says he's been excited to see the construction/renovation project near completion.

"During renovation I really enjoyed seeing some of the history of the building being uncovered," Weyer says. "I was surprised to know that the library was originally a gymnasium that still had the basketball court lines on the floor. Now our students and teachers are leaving their messages on the walls." 

And while the walls, which have recorded history in more ways that one, will be gone shortly, perhaps some of the sentiments shared will find a way to persist and be discovered by teachers and students who aren't just tearing down, but building up, always, to create a safe and meaningful environment on a school's hallowed grounds.

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