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Plenty of stories told as Nichols celebrates 50th

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By Stephen Thomas

    NICHOLS - During the past year the Nichols Elementary School building underwent substantial physical improvements.

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    A special ceremony hosted by the school became a personal upgrade for the entire Nichols community.

    More than 500 visitors attended the Nichols School’s 50th anniversary celebration, sharing memories, yearbook photos and smiles.

    Nichols students participated in the event by roaming the school hallways with cameras and clipboards to interview guests.

    The Nichols library set up a camera to videotape former students and employees, allowing for a verbally documented memory of their times at the school.

    Cougar Catering, students from a food class at Bullitt Central High School, created eight specially designed cakes along with punch.

    Bullitt County Public School Board member Dolores Ashby helped plan the celebration for current and former students and families as well as those who attended the previous school facility on the site.

    “We, as a committee, literally put this together on a shoestring budget,” Ashby told the audience. “Be sure to see everybody and hug everybody and tell them how much they’ve meant to you.”

    Ashby said the original Nichols School opened on the site in 1918. She said there had been a school on the land for over 150 years.

    Superintendent Keith Davis addressed the gathering, crediting Ashby’s efforts in keeping the school vibrant within the community.

    “Nichols has no greater advocate,” said Davis. “This is probably one of the smallest schools in the state. Ms. Ashby never thought of closing it.”

    Rather than closing, BCPS approved major renovations to the current facility that are now complete.

    Beyond the building itself, Nichols takes pride in its community members. Davis praised them by complimenting their children, the students attending Nichols.

    “These students are friendly, they look you in the eye and they’re good children,” he said.

    Principal Donna Taylor said a community celebration was the only way Nichols could truly honor the school’s anniversary.

    “It’s just neat to see the people in the audience who were here in the 20s, 30s and 40s,” said Taylor. “You could feel all the love. This building has had some cracks in it, but there’s still the love.”

    Taylor said school officials attempted to gather contact information from visitors to keep them connected to the current school.

    “We had several come in from out of state. We even had former bus drivers,” said Taylor. “It was a true homecoming. A lot of people felt like they came home.”

    The school was honored with commemorative plaques from the Kentucky House of Representatives and Bullitt Fiscal Court. Former Nichols principal John Sullivan, on behalf of Rep. Linda Belcher, presented the House plaque to Taylor.

    “Nichols becomes a part of you,” Sullivan told the audience. “I treasure my days here at Nichols.”

    Among dignitaries, Ashby mentioned former principal Ron Weimer, who could not attend. Regardless, the gathering offered Weimer a standing ovation.

    Former students were recognized during the ceremony, the largest ovation for 91-year-old Viola Logston, who attended the old school building and worked in the Nichols cafeteria for over 28 years.

    Former student Dennis Mitchell offered a glimpse of the Nichols area’s school history, including the original deed acquired by the school board for the property in 1859.

    Beyond the statistics and photographs shared in Mitchell’s presentation, he was more pleased with admiring the folks that made up Nichols.

    “It’s not just a school, it’s a community,” he said.