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Editor's Voice: Demey School was a reflection of its namesake

Posted 7/22/14

The Alice Demey Elementary School lived up to its namesake. Alice Demey taught second grade there for 50 years – her dedication to education and helping others was legendary, and the school reflected that before it closed in 2003.

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Editor's Voice: Demey School was a reflection of its namesake

Posted

The Alice Demey Elementary School lived up to its namesake. Alice Demey taught second grade there for 50 years – her dedication to education and helping others was legendary, and the school reflected that before it closed in 2003.

 

Former students rave about the school, the great teachers, the warmth and loving spirit they felt within its walls. Demey, who died in 2010, was an example whom others tried to emulate: an accomplished teacher who was the first recipient of the Pennsylvania State Education Association’s Golden Apple, a Sunday school teacher at her church who took flowers to shut-ins, a tireless volunteer who gave 9,000 hours of her time to Frey Village, where she had lived for almost 10 years.

 

Demey, who lived on her family’s farm in Lower Swatara Twp. all her life, graduated from high school at the age of 16, and from Elizabethtown College at the age of 18. She immediately went to work upon her college graduation, at a one-room schoolhouse, before moving to Grandview Elementary School. Her career was so impressive that they named the school after her.

 

“She cared about her kids. She She cared about her colleagues. She cared about teaching,’’ said Richard Weinstein, former superintendent of Middletown Area School District.

 

Knowing the woman whose name was on the school makes it harder for local residents to see what’s happening to the building: It’s about to be demolished.

 

Penn State Harrisburg, which bought the empty school in 2003, has begun the demolition, and plans to turn the site into a recreation area, parking or possibly student housing. Dorms were planned at one time – the university had considered remodeling Demey School into housing for students –  but the cost of constructing student housing is great, and private developers have stepped in recently to build housing complexes on the edge of the university’s campus, making the need for dorms less critical.

 

Today, it is impractical to remodel Demey School into dorms because of the building’s age – it was built in 1953 – and condition, the university said. Fences have been erected around the school, in preparation for demolition, which is scheduled to begin by the end of July, according to the university.

 

Fortunately, Penn State Harrisburg won’t let Alice Demey’s legacy disappear from the physical world. The university plans to erect a marker in her honor at the site. “Penn State Harrisburg recognizes the important role that the Alice Demey Elementary School, and its namesake, played in the education of numerous Middletown area residents,’’ said Chancellor Mukund Kulkarni.

 

Indeed, Alice Demey taught all of us the importance of education and compassion for others.

 

Her dedication to teaching and helping others was a shining example that will live through time, and will resonate in every student and colleague who met her, school or no school.

 

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