After 52 years, Clark-Vitt Elementary School will no longer serve the Union R-XI School District.
With Prairie Dell Elementary opening for the 2020-21 school year, Clark-Vitt has closed its doors with the end of the current school year.
The building has served as a school since 1968. During its time it has housed middle school/junior high and elementary school students.
In 1968 the school served students in seventh and eighth grade. The school remained a junior high until 1988 when it became an elementary school.
Since the beginning the grade levels held at the school varied depending on what the district needed.
Which, according to the school’s principal, Dr. Aaron Burd, is a good example of what that building did — it served the needs of the district and the students.
“This school has been a staple in the Union community for so long,” Burd said. “It is amazing how different generations will remember the building in different ways but all took away the same feeling — a sense of community.”
Burd has been the school’s principal for the last four years and said it has been the sense of community the building held that he is most grateful for.
“The staff, students and parents have made this school a community that is welcoming,” Burd said. “What makes its welcoming so special is the history and memories you are told from those who have experienced this school.”
Burd had hoped the ending of this school year would have provided the students and staff a memory of closure. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted that.
“There was no celebration planned to commemorate the school in its final year, but we all had looked forward to doing our last end-of-year activities here and being together,” he said.
Burd said not having those events prevents a sense of closure.
“Two-thirds of our students will move onto middle school, the rest will go on to attend Central and Prairie Dell Elementary,” Burd said. “The teachers and staff will also be spreading out across the district working at different schools — this was the last time we’d be together as a whole.”
Burd added that while the end he and the school had hoped for did not happen, he feels the sense of community at Clark-Vitt will continue to live on in the district.
Assigned to be the principal at Prairie Dell Elementary, Burd said he is excited to watch the camaraderie and community form there as well.
He added it will be “different” not having Clark-Vitt as a part of the school system but he is excited for the school’s new purpose.
While Union students won’t be in the building, the facility will hopefully serve Union in a new way.
Franklin County Children and Families Community Resource Board is planning to purchase Clark-Vitt to create a children and family community resource center, which will house several agencies in one location.
Burd said that the school’s new purpose is more than fitting.
“The building’s new purpose is still helping kids, which is what our goal as an education facility was,” Burd said. “The help the kids will receive at Clark-Vitt now will just be in a different capacity.”