WEIRTON - The halls of three Weirton elementary schools brought back memories for many area residents Sunday as they took one last look around before the buildings are closed for good later this year.
Residents of all ages could be found walking through Weirton Heights, Liberty and Broadview elementary schools, looking at photographs, finding their old classrooms and even reconnecting with former classmates and teachers.
"This will bring back a lot of memories," Superintendent Suzan Smith said. "They all have a story to tell."
Patty Parks Granato, who attended Liberty Elementary from 1946 to 1952, was among the former students visiting the school Sunday as part of an open house offered by the Hancock County Board of Education. Liberty Elementary allowed many former students to trace their hands and write their names in the building's main hallway. -- Craig Howell
Former students and other area residents took some time Sunday to look at old photos and yearbooks while visiting Broadview Elementary. The Hancock County school board held an open house Sunday at three elementary schools set to close at the end of the school year. -- Craig Howell
Mary-Louise Kuhns Danek, left, and Nancy Kondik Ford, were among area residents who visited Weirton Heights Elementary Sunday during an open house offered by the county school board. The two met in the first grade at Weirton Heights Elementary, and have remained friends ever since. -- Craig Howell
This is the final year for all three schools, with students attending the new Weirton Elementary School beginning in the fall.
Nancy Kondik Ford and Mary-Louise Kuhns Danek spent some time at Weirton Heights Elementary, recalling the earliest days of their friendship.
"Our memories always go back to Weirton Heights where we were in first grade together," Ford said.
"She's still the same," Danek said of her friend.
Weirton Heights Principal Frank Carey said many older residents had an interest in seeing the school's boiler room, which years ago housed the milk cooler.
"If they were good, they got to go down there and help pass out the milk," Carey said.
Also found walking the halls Sunday was former Weirton Mayor Don Mentzer, who brought along a copy of a picture of his first grade class from Weirton Heights Elementary in 1938.
Patty Rhoades, of Paris, Pa., also brought a gift while visiting Liberty Elementary; a biography on Charles L. Campbell, who she said was the principal of the original Liberty Elementary. Campbell's son, George, was principal when she was in the first grade at Liberty.
"I went to school here when there were only four classrooms," Rhoades explained, adding she attended until the sixth grade before going to Cove Elementary for seventh grade and Broadview Elementary for its first year of operation.
She said the school was a focal point for the community, recalling Halloween carnivals and other events.
P.J. Zuros, now of Pittsburgh, brought his wife and their son along to Liberty, showing some of his old classrooms and recalling memories, including his first - and only - time getting detention.
He also remembered his last day attending the school before moving up to Weir Middle.
"I was sad I would be leaving for the last time," he said. "It's a lot of memories."
Hancock County Magistrate Scott Hicks also split his time between schools, with six years at Liberty and two at Broadview.
While reconnecting with former classmates, he recalled many of his teachers as well as his time as the captain of the boys patrol at the school.
"That was probably my start in law enforcement," Hicks joked.
At Broadview Elementary, visitors looked through photos in the gymnasium and met with some of the school's current staff.
"It's been great watching all the people reminiscing," Principal Andrea Dulaney said.
A similar open house for the community at the new Weirton Elementary School will be held in May.
The three buildings will be demolished at a later date under terms of the levy which provided funding for the construction of the new consolidates school.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)