After 80 years, Hardin County school prepares to shut its doors - WDRB 41 Louisville News

After 80 years, Hardin County school prepares to shut its doors

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Hardin County school is shutting its doors. After nearly 80 years, class at Howevalley Elementary School will dismiss for the last time on Wednesday.

It marks the end of one chapter, and the beginning of the next for people like Kathy Cofer, the longest-serving teacher at the school.

"People always said when it's time to move, I'll know for sure when they say, 'pack up and show up at the next building,'" she said.

Now the hallways are filled with boxes at the school where Cofer has taught for the last 24 years. 

"It's family, it's relationships," Cofer said. 

She attended the school. So did her kids and her parents. The knowledge that its doors are closing brings up a lot of emotion, as Cofer finds it hard to say goodbye.

"I love this building. I love this school and I love these kids" Cofer said with teas flowing from her face. "I know we'll still have that in the new building...but it will just be different for a little while."

When students return from winter break, all of Howevalley will move 10 miles down the road, to the new Cecilia Valley Elementary School. The school is so new the brick pillars are literally still wrapped in plastic, and much of what's inside is high-tech, including interactive boards on the wall. School leaders put one in every classroom at Cecilia Valley.

It's all part of a $16 million taxpayer investment. Howevalley was originally built in the 1930's. School leaders say boiler system heating, window unit air conditioning and leaking walls made the building inefficient. 

Hardin County will next look at redrawing boundary lines -- determining which students will attend which school.

"The district goes to great lengths to try to make that as painless as possible," said John Stith, Chief Operating Officer of Hardin County Public Schools.

Howevalley only has 300 students, but the new school was built for 600, so the plan is to pull in more kids from neighboring G.C. Burkhead Elementary School and Lakewood Elementary School.

"We did a redistricting last year where we allowed 5th graders in one school to remain at that school," said Stith. "They were not forced to go to the new school, so a lot of effort goes into making that transition as smooth and painless as possible."

Contractors are trying to smooth out last-minute work. As teachers prepare to transition and move boxes Thursday, there is a mixture of excitement and nostalgia.

Dunhum Hartman, age 7, says he's excited to see his new school.

"Because I wonder how big it is," he said.  

But some for some, like Cofer, the transition will be bittersweet as a school community formed in 1930's writes a new chapter in its history. 

"Sometimes the building is part of who we are as well, and we'll miss that, Cofer said.

The first day at the new school is Jan. 4.

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