Visitors to Rolph Street Public School's Thursday afternoon Open House took a walk down memory lane touring the school for the last time while it's still functioning as a school.
"A lot of memories, a lot of memories," said Linda Zilic, visiting with a friend who was also interested in seeing the building. "They've done some renovations, but it's pretty much the same as it was. It's just a really important part of Tillsonburg."
George and Cristine Dan, who moved to Tillsonburg three years ago from Kitchener, also wanted to see the 103-year-old school in its last days.
"It's beautiful," said George. "We're pleased to hear that it's not going to be demolished, which is a big plus because there were plans earlier on and the public kind of reacted promptly. 'Hey guys, don't do it.' You don't have many of these around town."
"I taught here for about 15 years," said Zilic. "I've been here 43 years – my kids went here and I taught here. It's part of our family – we've got to keep it."
One of its unique features, she said, were the original tin ceilings. And the doors. And the floors...
"It's a beautiful building. The beautiful hardwood doors... the large hallways, you don't see that any more. There's a lot of natural light. It was built with original Tillson brick, they told us. At night, with the lights on, it looks like the Titanic to me."
Thursday's Open House Tour, part of Education Week, also gave visitors a chance to see how classrooms were arranged – with children interacting with their teachers.
"It's more fun to see the kids," said Zilic. "And kids were guiding us, too."
Given a choice between the basement or upstairs to start, my tour started 'up.' Enthusiastic Grade 5-6 tour guides point out the photographs posted on the stairwell – some old, some not so old. The staff room... a Grade 4-5 class, a Grade 3-4 class, a Grade 2-3 class, LST room, a Grade 5-6 classroom... and, descending a different stairwell, more main floor classrooms, and the 'new' the gymnasium and library.
When did they add the gymnasium and library?
"1918, I think," one of the guides suggested.
"No, 1989," another corrected.
The tour concluded with refreshments, and a book sale.
Describing her school, Keeva Ramer said "Everyone's really nice - the teachers are really nice... I'll miss this place."
At the same time, there was some excitement.
"I feel like I've made history," said Amy Meharg, "but we (Grade 6 students) would have moved out anyways because this is our last year."
"I'm excited," said Claire Craig, looking forward to Westfield in the fall. "Really excited."
Classes end at Rolph Street Public School on June 25th. Next year most Rolph Street students attend Westfield, TVDSB's new K-8 elementary school on Quarter Town Line. Depending on boundaries, some will be going to South Ridge.
On June 12, Thames Valley will hold a Rolph Street School Closing Ceremony, a transition ceremony (with slideshow), starting at 1 p.m. There will be one final Open House open for the community from 5:30-7:30 p.m.