Brain Says Goodbye To Viola Elementary
After standing for nearly 100 years, the old elementary school building in Viola is finally coming down. The school housed students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It was where I went to elementary school. I had some very powerful memories seared into my brain at Viola. Most of them were good ones. But all of them feel a bit lessened now that the walls of the old school are finally being torn down.
Viola Elementary officially closed down in 1998. It has sat empty for 20 years. It has seen various owners try and restore it to a respectable state. It's current owner, Heidi Liegl brought in engineers to look at the school. It was discovered that the old school was falling in on itself. It couldn't be saved. Thousands of students, including myself, once called the halls of Viola home. Looking at pictures of the dilapidated school bring back some real memories.
I remember the old gymnasium like it was yesterday. The dark wood floor that creaked when you dribbled a basketball. The old wooden bleachers. I remember games of dodgeball in that gym. It's a game that a kid with glasses doesn't soon forget. The old ropes that I couldn't climb still hang from the rafters. We had school assemblies there. Holiday concerts. I remember singing my first solo at a Christmas concert in that gym.
I can remember standing outside the doors of the school and waiting to come in. We'd file up the stairs and then off to our classrooms. I can still remember the names of most of my teachers. Mrs. Kopenhaver. Mrs. Saltz. Mrs. Stout. Mrs. McVeigh. Just some of the names that I remember so well from my times at Viola. I always remember the classrooms as friendly and welcoming places. I suppose that's how many remember elementary school. I like to think our teachers at Viola had a lot to do with it too. I have found memories outside the school walls too. Playing kickball at recess. Tackle football during the winter even though we were told not too. I remember hitting Jamie Martin so hard that he puked afterward! At least that's how I remember it.
The books have long been gone. Now the walls are being torn down too. The current owner says that she wants to do something with the property. Plans are to keep the gym and turn it into some sort of events center. Talks of a possible winery on the property have been floated around too. I hope something good comes of it. Something else that Viola can be known for and be proud of.
I always wondered why I went to Viola Elementary. I lived on a farm north of Anamosa. My bus trip there was so long there was a stop midway at the junior high in town. But now I'm glad I did make that long trip. The school at Viola made a lasting impact on me. It's sad to see it go, but her time is up. There are no more classes to teach. The lesson is over. History has been taught. We were lucky to be part of it.