Goodbye Perry: Students say final farewell

Photo courtesy of Rod James Photography
Perry students and teachers pose for a memorable shot with the school.
Photo courtesy of Rod James Photography Perry students and teachers pose for a memorable shot with the school.

Perry students and staff, both past and present, as well as the community bid a final farewell to Perry Elementary School during the closing ceremony on May 11 in the Perry Elementary gym/cafeteria.

Superintendent Steve Keifer welcomed everyone to the ceremony which was a celebration of the past 80 plus year that the “school served the community, students and teachers exceptionally well.”

“School is a building that has four walls – with tomorrow inside,” he began with a quote by Lon Watters. “Four walls with tomorrow inside. That’s exactly what this school has been for the thousands of students who have been educated here.”

Students and staff from each decade were asked to stand and be recognized with many waving to past peers as they stood.


Honored guests shared their memories as students and teachers at the Perry building. A popular memory was the May Pole which was demonstrated by Angela Dowd and students at the end of the ceremony.

Janice Tothero, a current teacher, brought tears to the eyes of many past and current colleagues during her speech.

“As we look forward to the Perry Elementary Center, let’s cherish our memories from here the Perry Elementary School, let us cherish the friendship we have experienced, and above all as educations and members of the community let us cherish the lives of the children we have touched,” said Tothero.

Principal Stanley Shawn Gravish thanked the Shoemakersville and Hamburg area community for the support and for coming out to share in the memories of a building that has been a part of the community for decades and hopes that the new center will become just as much a part of the community.

Audience members were encouraged to tour the building after the ceremony which had memorabilia on display as well as posters were memories could be documented and seen as people walked by.

Students began their goodbye to the school earlier with “Fun Fridays” which have included handprints and signatures on the walls of the building, paper t-shirts with what each student will miss about Perry Elementary and a group picture taken this past Friday with the students spelling out “PERRY” while wearing red and white. The photograph was taken by Rod James with the help of Virginville Fire Company. Gravish would like to thank Shoemakersville Fire Company, Hamburg Fire Company and Virginville Fire Company for their help in making the picture possible.

Closing ceremony guest speakers included Mae Noecker, Betty Zerr (who was unable to make it, but Lee Hefner delivered her speech) and May LaFaver. Perry Chorus and Orchestra performed a musical prelude as well as the Perry and Hamburg Area Alma Mater.

Parts of the current Perry building will be taken with to the new center including time capsules and the capsule from 1931 that has yet been found. Keifer stated that bricks from the building will be put outside of the fence for those who would like to do so. An auction is set for June 3.

Next school year, students K-4 will merge with Tilden Elementary for a year and grade 5 students will attend Hamburg Area Middle School while the center is constructed. A dedication ceremony for the Perry Elementary Center dedicated to Esther H. Ludwig is set for August 2014.