Brooks Elementary School: Lot of history packed into short 40 years

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By Stephen Thomas

    HILLVIEW - Before shutting the doors on 40 years of history, past and present educators, students and parents took one last evening to let their minds think back.


    While a new school building looms, there was plenty of memories to share during a recent gathering.

    The new state-of-the-art elementary on Brooks Hill Rd. is scheduled to open for the 2010-11 school year. The current location on East Blue Lick Road will close at the end of the current school year.

    Many former staff members, students and parents attended the celebration to relive memories of a school that served an important service in the county’s north end.

    Brooks principal Cheri Lineweaver said students were encouraged to post their memories of the building on the hallway walls. Students, teachers and guests were also invited to sign their names on the walls in the cafeteria.

    “We thought it was important to do a tribute now and look forward to our future.” Lineweaver said.

    The forward look included a presentation of the new school building, with updated photographs and a discussion of special technologies and amenities.

    The day’s focus, however, remained on familiar faces who graced the Brooks halls for many of the 40 years.

“It’s interesting to meet former teachers,” said Lineweaver. “They’re really enjoying seeing old friends.”

    Among the luminaries was Carol Richards, the building’s first principal. Richards recalled the very first day of school at the facility, on Halloween 1969.

    “The students at Brooks in ‘69 went to Overdale (Elementary) from 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.,” he said. “They did that from August through October.”

    Overdale hosted Brooks via afternoon school sessions while construction on the Brooks building was completed.

    “On Halloween night we put all the teachers and students on buses with all their books and supplies and we went to the new school,” Richards recalled. “The children and parents were pleased.”

    Richards’ favorite memory regarding Brooks Elementary was the continuous support of the surrounding community.

    “The community was very supportive through their participation, especially through the Volunteers in Education program,” he said. “Bullitt County was a leader of that  program under (former superintendent) Frank Hatfield. This whole community was very supportive during those early years.”

    Richards visited with Rep. Linda Belcher during the event. He hired Belcher and her late husband, Larry, straight out of college to teach at Brooks in 1970.

    “He didn’t know what in the world he was getting when he hired us,” Belcher joked.

    “We couldn’t have had better representatives in our community,” Richards said.

    Belcher recalled hosting movies on Saturdays with popcorn to help pay for the school’s physical education equipment.

    Richards mentioned that Larry, with a P.E. degree, became the first elementary P.E. instructor in Bullitt County.

    “That set the stage for everybody else,” Belcher added.

    Other former Brooks principals attending the farewell celebration included Marvin Stewart, Bonita Franklin and Brenda Pirtle. Dignitaries included superintendent Keith Davis, County Judge Melanie Roberts and School Board member Lorraine McLaughlin.

    Among former Brooks teacher was Linda McDonald, pleased to visit with former student Donna Anderson Eadens, wife of current Hillview mayor Jim Eadens.

    “She had the longest, prettiest hair of any student I taught,” McDonald said.

    McDonald was excited for the upgrades at Brooks, mentioning that the school had come a long way since her tenure.

    “I remember teaching a room of 37 kids with no air conditioning,” she said.

    Brooks began in 1969 with 913 students. Current enrollment numbers are closer to 400. The new facility will be ready to host 600 with expansion plans available up to 800.

    Look for more photos of the event in the gallery at www.pioneernews.net.