Looking to the past and future at Lockbourne school reunion

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Ruth VanGundy (left) graduated from Hamilton Township High School in 1951, but still returns to her old elementary school stomping grounds in Lockbourne during the village’s annual school reunion celebration. Pictured with VanGundy is Lockbourne Mayor Christie Ward (right).

Former students who spent their elementary days in a Lockbourne school building gathered for a third annual reunion inside the two-story structure recently returned to its original late 1800s glory.

“Of all the events we have, this is my favorite,” said Lockbourne Mayor Christie Ward during the Aug. 24 celebration attended by past pupils who learned the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic as far back as the late 1930s.

Village of Lockbourne organizers furnished the luncheon while individuals provided the memories of days past spent inside the two-story structure, May Day celebrations, and principal/teacher George Cole, who also lived in Lockbourne.

“We love to hear the stories,” said Ward.

Hamilton Local Schools Superintendent Mark Tyler then took attendees to the future with a presentation about township changes impacting the district, including development of farm land that once produced crops and fed cattle and swine. He said, while he acknowledges the love for the rural nature of the township, it is not realistic to maintain that way of life anymore and is beyond the control of district leaders.

“We’re making the best of it. I do support growth and development,” said Tyler before outlining upcoming Obetz projects across Lockbourne and Rathmell roads from the high school.

“There are two primary developments. All the greenspace will be developed from Rathmell and Lockbourne to Parsons Avenue. High-end condos are going in beginning there and the project is taking shape.”

Infrastructure improvements are also underway along Lockbourne Road across from the Hamilton Meadows subdivision for another development. Tyler said the projects are expected to take eight to 10 years for full build-out.

“We don’t know exactly how it will impact the schools,” said Tyler, who reported the design includes a potential community center, pool, athletic facility, restaurants and shops. “At full build out they expect 900 units. There are two factors we won’t know until we get there—how fast and how many children will come. If we see the numbers the developer and our architect are predicting, it’s roughly 400 students and we’ll be okay.”

If the estimate of new students holds, Tyler does not expect there will be a need for district expansion, but administrators are prepared just in case.

“We are not in any way panicked,” said Tyler. “We have a really good school system. We’ve lost some enrollment and we’ll likely see new builds bring us back up to our high water mark. Our schools are in great shape, both brick and mortar and financially as well.”

In returning back to the past via the present, Tyler told the former Hamilton students it is humbling for him to see people years removed from school that continue to come back and still have a reverence for a building that provided their early education.

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