By Meg Dickens
People focus on the class of 2020 when thinking about early school closures because of COVID-19, but what people may have forgotten is that this was Shady Valley Elementary’s last school year. Shady’s final year was cut short, but the building and community continue to stand strong.
“It’s time for the Shady Valley Elementary PTO to say farewell. With the unfortunate closing of the school and with COVID-19 closing us early, we have very little to share,” said a Shady Elementary School online page representative in a recent statement.
Shady Valley Elementary closed its doors nearly a year after the original conflict started. The Johnson County School Board decided to downsize the elementary school at a called meeting on June 13, 2019. Concerned citizens gathered to fight for the school. Advocate Ashley Worlock gathered statistics and studied ordinances. The fight continued until the school board made the final decision to close Shady Valley Elementary during the September board meeting, which took place in Heritage Hall Theatre because of the inflated attendance.
During the fight to keep the elementary school running, locals discussed generations of family members that attended. Many had grandparents who helped build the school. Although the school closed, the Shady community regained control of the building through a new 501C organization called the Shady Valley Elementary Preservation Committee.
Throughout the whole process, social media has played an important part. Advocates shared meeting days and gathered support with online postings. In light of the final closing, one active Shady page, Shady Valley Elementary PTO, has stopped posting for good.
“We hope for nothing more than for this wonderful school to live on in the hearts and minds of our community. We would like to thank the teachers and staff for everything they have done for our children over the years. You are amazing, and we love you. God bless Shady Valley!”
The Shady Valley Elementary Lions will go to new schools in the 2020-2021 school year, but that school building will remain an important part of the Shady community.