Too late to save gym

By Lindsey Gordon , Anna Carrera

Published 08/11 2014 06:16PM

Updated 08/14 2014 12:46PM

Update: 10:05 pm, 8/13/14, Wednesday
ATWOOD -- Atwood-Hammond High School is coming down, but one graduate tried making a last ditch effort to save part of it. WCIA-3's Lindsey Gordon has more.

They started tearing down the building two days ago. Most of the school is already rubble, but a former student went to the board Wednesday night to ask them to let him keep the gym.

He had hopes of turning it into a community center. But, the board said it was too late. Atwood-Hammond High School holds many memories for those who walked its halls. People were upset when the school district voted to consolidate and tear it down.

"It's just a sad thing for the community. Well, you know you lose a lot of your roots. You lose your school. You lose your roots."

Richard Price didn't want that to happen. He graduated from Atwood in 1966, so he bought the land the school sits on with the hopes of saving the gym and turning it into a community center.

"In this day of recycling and going green, saving what you had, it just had a new roof on it not long ago, so the building's in real good shape."

People around town were on-board.

"It would be a nice thing for them to be able to have something for kids. Really, the kids don't have a lot of places to go here in Atwood."

But, the school board says it has to follow state law. Members signed a contract to tear it down and there's no going back. Price says he may use the six acres to grow corn or build a few apartments, plus a community center is still possible.

Price says he's glad the board was at least quick with its decision. The contractor was holding off demolishing the gym until then. He says demolition will likely resume Thursday.
Original: 6:16 pm, 8/11/14, Monday
ATWOOD -- It's the end of an era for a Central Illinois school. Demolition started Monday at Atwood-Hammond High. The building with a century's worth of memories will be gone in the next few days.

People came out there to watch it come crashing down. People say they knew this day was coming, but it didn't make it any less painful as they watched it happen.

You might think it'd be hard to tell what's inside Atwood-Hammond High from outside. But all the people who were outside it on Monday could do it.

"The top floor was the math room," said Jordan Rettig, who went to AH for the last couple years. "The one below it was the Spanish room."

They know because they've been there.

"We've walked through these halls," said Jordan.

"I live away from here now, but this was where I went to school," said 1954 AH graduate, Richard Evans.  

They came back to see it one last time.

"Just to see history going down," said Jordan's mother, Deb Rettig.

They learned more than history inside the walls. And there's still more to understand.

"For a new beginning to start, there also had to be an ending," said Jordan.

The next generations may not even remember the old building by the time they're ready for high school. But, all the others will do what they can to make sure they never forget.

Students who would have gone to school there will be consolidating with Arthur-Lovington. The demolition crew says they plan to have some bricks out there for people to take home this week.

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