By MEGAN WILLIAMS
Daily News-Record 1/29/20
Eastern Mennonite School’s elementary program has been waiting 15 years for a space to call its own. And not just any space. Instead of a space to learn in, school officials who have been planning for this for years wanted to create a “learning space.”
On Tuesday, the new elementary school building, which has its own unique history, was dedicated with a ribbon- cutting ceremony attended by former students, teachers, principals, and current employees and families. About 75 people attended.
The new elementary building has a long history in the Park View community, having been an appliance store, apartment building, home to several restaurants and to MennoMedia for several decades. MennoMedia hosted the Mennonite Hour, an international program that was recorded in one of the best recording studios on this side of the country, said Paul Lehman, head of the school.
“A lot of transformative things occurred in this building,” Lehman said.
Sam Weaver was the school’s first principal, serving from 1969 to 1981. He was in attendance on Tuesday. He remembers dreaming of putting an elementary school along Mount Clinton Pike, but said he was excited to see the program become a reality in 2005, and for it to finally receive its own space.
The elementary program began in 2005 with just 24 students and was housed in Lindale Mennonite Church in Linville. After outgrowing that space, the school moved to a location on U. S. 11 and Cornerstone Lane, where Horizons Edge Sports Campus is now. Fourth and fifth grade classes moved to that location in 2009 and the rest of the school moved in 2010.
EMS purchased its current location in 2016. However, it needed a lot of work to become the space it is now, and for a school year the entire elementary program squeezed into the main building of the high school.
But finally, the elementary program moved into its new home at the beginning of January. The program has grown from 24 students to 94 over the past 15 years.
Elementary Principal Maria Archer has been with the school since the advent of the program 15 years ago and has watched it grow and change during that time.
“Most principals don’t get to spend much time in the classroom, but I do,” Archer said. “I get to interact with the students and collaborate with the teachers, and I get to know the parents as well.”
After three different locations, Archer said, it’s “hard to believe” they’ve arrived at this point. Sometimes she thinks back on those early years when they had a third of the student population they have now.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” she said.
During the ribbon- cutting ceremony, Lehman thanked the community and the donors who helped raise $3.7 million of the needed of the $4.5 million it cost to purchase and renovate the building.
“This is your school,” Lehman said. “This is a community school.”