The memories flowed thickly through the classrooms, in the halls and down the staircases Friday at North Pines Middle School as people revisited decades of history one last time.
A new school has risen to replace the old one on Pines Road in Spokane Valley, and the old building will be torn down. But before the demolition crews moved in, the Central Valley School District decided to let the community say goodbye.
“We just know that North Pines Middle School has a lot of history in the community,” CVSD Superintendent Ben Small said. “This is the oldest building in our district right now. It’s appropriate to let people come back and let people relive their memories.”
Sharon Knoll, Angela Flink and Sabrina Budik posed by the bright blue North Pines Middle School sign out front. The three were neighbors as children, and all attended the school in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
They chatted about their memories of the building, their classmates and their teachers. “It’s going to be cool to see,” Budik said.
They joked about what kind of memento they might like to remember the school by. “We had a teacher who threw erasers at people,” Knoll said. “I think we should get one of Mr. Klevin’s erasers.”
The trio were among hundreds of people who stopped in to say goodbye Friday afternoon as movers loaded trucks.
Bill Pierce graduated from the school in 1959, the year after the name of the school was changed from Central Valley Junior High to North Pines Junior High. He remembers an empty field across the street and a farm next door. He recalls watching the farmer butcher a steer during recess one day. “Things were a little different,” he said.
When he arrived at the school Friday he discovered one of his former classmates, Kaye Perry. “We just happened to run into each other,” he said. “Our class hangs together pretty tightly. We meet once a month.”
He strolled through the gym, which was much smaller in his day. “They didn’t have seating when we were here,” he said. “I remember when Larry Hammer broke his arm under the basket.”
Many of the classrooms were empty except for carts full of equipment and cardboard boxes labeled with the teacher’s name. The principal’s office sat empty, but the championship banners still hung in the gym.
“It’s was a pretty good school,” Pierce said. “We had good teachers.”
Peter Tenney strolled the halls wearing the letter he won when he played on the football team. “I earned it,” he said. “I was fullback.”
Tenney attended the school from 1966 to 1968, back when the school was for seventh through ninth grades. His family moved to California before his ninth-grade year began, however. But Tenney came back as an adult and still lives in the area.
“One of the saddest things in my life was not being able to graduate ninth grade from North Pines Junior High,” he said.
He has particularly fond memories of his football season in the fall of 1967. The team had three wins, two losses and a tie. “It was not a stellar year but it was a lot of fun,” he said. “I really had a good time at this school.”
Tenney and his sister, Karen Tenney, toured the school taking pictures and reminiscing. She remembered being impressed with the size of the two-story school building, which has several large staircases.
“It feels grand,” she said. “You feel like you’re in a movie, you know, when you’re 12.”
Friday was the last day for the public to set foot in the building. It was used by multiple law enforcement agencies for an active shooter drill on Saturday and was turned over to asbestos removal crews on Wednesday. The building will be demolished this summer.
But people can still get a piece of the school. A pallet of bricks will be saved, and the gym floor will be cut into 4-foot squares. The district will announce on social media this summer how people can get a brick or piece of floor as a memento.
Once the building is gone the district will make the 80 feet area closest to Pines Road a linear park with grass and trees. The rest of the space will be made into a baseball field, tennis courts and parking. The new North Pines Middle School, which sits on Broadway Avenue behind the old school, will be unveiled to the public during a dedication ceremony at 6 p.m. on Aug. 23.
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