Pictured is the old Silver Lake School on Saturday.

SILVER LAKE — A group of at least two dozen people gathered at the old school in Silver Lake on Saturday to celebrate the school and the memories associated with it.

City Council President Hugh Murfin said the school opened in 1930, teaching all 12 grades. The cost of the building was about $88,000, according to a document found in a keepsake box dug up Wednesday that was placed on school grounds when the school opened. The school ceased to be a secondary school in 1966 and was exclusively an elementary school until its closure.

In 2004, the Warsaw School Board decided to close Claypool, Silver Lake and Atwood. In 2008, the board decided to reopen and renovate Claypool, build new Madison and Leesburg Elementary, and renovate and expand Jefferson Elementary. The site of the former Atwood School has become a park and walking trail.

Mike Baur purchased the building and had promoted plans to repair the structure and reallocate the space. However, the building stood empty and deteriorated further, according to a March 2020 Times-Union article.

Murfin said the city now owns the property.

Clerk-Treasurer Tonya Conley said Council realized it was too far, so in 2018 Council decided to tear down the school. Baur appealed the demolition in court, but lost.

The school will be demolished by Advanced Demolition Services and should take a few weeks, Murfin said. A community center will be built on the property.

Conley said construction of the community center will take some time to start as the city is still in the planning stages of construction. At the end of Saturday’s grand opening, Murfin said the city will send out flyers to get residents’ feedback on what they want in the community center.

At Saturday’s event, Murfin said there were documents, such as the school’s deed and a Bible with faded photos, found in the keepsake box. It is hoped that these items will be placed in shadow boxes and displayed in the community center upon completion.

People shared their memories of school on Saturday.

Sam Whitaker told how he and a few other students had a project for a biology class and they decided to launch a rocket with a frog in it. The first attempt didn’t kill the frog, but when they went out the next day for a second day, the biology teacher let the frog go because she didn’t want it to die.

Miles Huffman said he didn’t go to Silver Lake School until eighth grade, so he only spent five years in school. Silver Lake had more to offer as a school than the one he attended before. Playing basketball was very important at school. John Miller was a basketball coach when Huffman went to school and Miller “ran us to death.” Huffman said he thinks he always knows every step of the school by doing laps around the school.

Huffman said there were a lot of great memories at school and it was a shame the school had to close, but that’s how things have been over the years.

Huffman said 23 students graduated in 1960.

Carolyn Davis-Montel said there were 28 in her class of 1965. Of those 28, she believed there were at least 15 students who had spent all 12 years at Silver Lake School and there she was. It was like a second home for them for many years. She thanked the teachers they had, their parents and the community leaders who established the school. She said the school will always be cherished.

There are also bricks on the lawn that people can take, Murfin said. However, there are bricks in boxes towards the back of the school and people should avoid taking them as they will be used to create a monument for the school.