A fond farewell for Chandler Hornets

May 25—GOSHEN — Terri Wentz has watched for over 40 years as students at Chandler Elementary School race out the doors on the last day of school.

On Thursday, she watched for the last time.

"A lot of the people are very sad, especially those who had children who attended," Wentz said. "For the most part, it's progress and tech is the future. ... Changes can be a struggle but I think this will make a positive impact in Goshen."

Next school year, the historic elementary school is set to become a tech hub for Goshen High School students. Tammi's daughter, Angie Wentz said despite that feeling of sadness, the new tech building creates a future that, like her mom, many are content with.

"We're excited about the opportunity for keeping Goshen students in town to be able to learn tech," Angie said.

Wentz's own kids didn't attend Chandler Elementary School, but as the outgoing president of the Historic South Side Neighborhood Association, she wanted to honor what's likely the final class of elementary students for the historic school as they venture out to summer break for the last time. Next year, students at Chandler will be divvied up between Parkside, Chamberlain and West Goshen elementary, with the bulk headed to West Goshen.

"It's the end of an era," Wentz said.

Community members lined the exits of the building and clapped, cheered, and blew bubbles as the kids went off to their parents' cars or got on buses to head home for summer break. For about four years now, Wentz has passed out bubbles to car-riding families in celebration of the end of school, but this year she made sure she had enough so that every student in the car could have their own bubbles.

Inside the school, teachers and staff gathered, discussing their new positions. Many of them boasted green tie-dyed shirts that read "Forever Hornet" on them, an homage to the Chandler Elementary School mascot they would be leaving behind.

"We're just glad to be able to be here and serve our community and serve our kiddos," outgoing Principal Cheryl Williams said. "It's a bittersweet thing because as we're closing one chapter at Chandler, we're starting a new chapter at Chandler."

Like other Chandler staff, Williams met with human resources to find a new position to fill in the district. She'll be transitioning into assistant principalship at Goshen Intermediate School.

"Central office staff was very good at working with all of our staff to find what it is, what we wanted and make the change," she said. "It was done very efficiently. It was a very good, smooth process, as well as it can be, I think."

For students, an uplifting and high-energy environment by staff has helped to get kids excited and steer away fears of switching schools.

"We just tried to make it a really good strong end-of-year celebration," she said. "We've been working with them and getting them excited and they've been going to open houses. We've really kept a positive outlook, a positive attitude, and think that's trickled over into our parents and our students."

Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at dani.messick@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2065.