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Aug 31

Willshire Public School

Postcard photo of Willshire Public School, 1917. Van Wert County, Ohio.

After looking at last week’s old school photos I got to thinking about my elementary school, Willshire Public School, in Van Wert County, Ohio. I attended school there from first grade through eighth grade, although the school system expanded and changed its name during that time.

Construction on the Willshire school building was started in 1900 and completed in 1901 at a cost of $14,000. The first class graduated from the new building in 1902 with a three-year high school certificate.

In the 1920s one-room country schools were closing and the township schools in the Willshire area merged with the Willshire School system. Even the students from Blackcreek and Liberty Townships in Mercer County transferred to Willshire. Some of these students were from the Chatt School  No. 3.

So, to accommodate of the increasing number of students in the system, an addition was built in 1930. The addition included a gymnasium-auditorium, an office, indoor restrooms, a cafeteria, science lab, a home economics department and a study hall.

Another addition was built in 1953 and included the two-story addition of eight classrooms and a combination cafeteria-library. [1]

Willshire High School Class of 1938-39.

Willshire High School, 1938-39 left to right:
Row 1, seated: (1) Mary Stetler, (2) LaVerne Bollenbacher, (3) Barbara Dull, (4) Bernice Pond, (5) Alice Handwerk, (6) Helen Miller, (7) Catherine Leininger, (8) Ruth Kuhn
Row 2: (9) LaVerne Stetler, (10) Margaret Painter, (11) Virginia Hamrick, (12) Lola Schumm, (13) Florence Dull, (14) Anita Stetler, (15) Genevive August, (16) Marjorie Pifer, (17) Orvie Putman, (18)Teacher
Row 3: (19) Bob Andrews, (20) Gene Duff, (21) Bob Myers, (22) Donnie Dellinger, (23) Marcus Hey, (24) Lincoln Cully, (25) Milton Schumm, (26) LaVerne Ripley

No. 6, Helen Miller was my aunt, one of my dad’s sisters.

Willshire and Rockford Public Schools consolidated in 1961 to form the Parkway Local School System. I remember that there was a contest to name the new school and all students were invited to enter. My entry was “Willrock”. My choice seemed pretty obvious to me, but it was not a winner.

After the consolidation of Willshire and Rockford schools, students in the elementary grades remained in the same school they had been attending and I continued to attend Willshire. Students from the former Willshire and Rockford schools were merged together for the seventh and eighth grades and were schooled at the Willshire building. Parkway High School was at the Rockford building.

Mendon Union joined the Parkway Local School system in 1992 and students were then bussed to all three schools. Then the Willshire building became the Parkway Middle School. A new Parkway Local School was erected at Rockford in 2005 and all the students in the district now attend the one building. The Willshire school building was demolished in 2006. The school buildings at Rockford and Mendon have also been torn down.

Some notable facts about the Willshire Public School: The Willshire School building was named in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The Willshire Bearcats basketball team was the state runner-up for the 1954-55 season. Both of my parents graduated from Willshire High School, my dad in 1943 and my mom in 1947. In fact, all of my aunts and uncles graduated from Willshire.

Willshire Public School, November 1932.

Unfortunately, I do not know the identities of the students in the above 2 photos. If anyone can identify them I would appreciate knowing.

 

[1] “Willshire Public School, 1900-1961”, 2006 Willshire High School Alumni Banquet program, reprinted in a 1994 Photo Star article; information originally compiled by Sondra Samples from Willshire Herald and Photo Star articles, Willshire Sesqui Booklet and from Phyllis Brockmyer, historical preservation consultant.

4 comments

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  1. Linda duff

    I lived in black creek township but went to grade school in Rockford. I lived about 2 miles east of chatt on Wabash Road.

    1. Karen

      I know exactly where you lived and grew up. It was about 2 miles from where I grew up. Joe and I took a bus trip to Ameriflora years ago and your parents were on that trip, too. There were mainly Lutherans and Methodists from Chatt on the bus.

  2. DON

    JUST LETTING YOU KNOW THAT I HAVE A ORIGINAL 1913 WILLSHIRE HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES INVITATION .IN VERY GOOD CONDITION. HAS A MOTHER OF PEARL LIKE ON FRONT OF THE CARD WITH THE DATE OF 1913 ON IT. ALSO HAS A STRING ON THE CARD WITH A BLUE FUZZIE TYPE OF CLOTH . INSIDE HAS THE SENIOR CLASE OF THE WILLSHIRE HIGH SCHOOL REQUEST YOUR PRESENCE AT THE COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL TWENTY – FOURTH AT EIGHT O’CLOCK AT THE OPER HOUSE. I WILL BE PLACEING IT ON EBAY FOR AUCTION SOON AS THIS IS MY HOBBIE COLLECTING OLD ITEMS FOR RESELL .MY EBAY ID IS RALVPT68 .I WILL HAVE PICTURE OF IT ON THERE. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND. GYSGT. USMC RET. DON

    1. Karen

      That sounds interesting. I’ll be watching for it. I enjoy collecting those old local items. Thanks!

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