“Wow, so you got out,” the man exclaimed.
Scott Munn sat in the back of a black SUV on his way to the airport. It was just past 4 a.m., he recounted, describing the January 2019 morning as “frigid.” The consultant was headed to Philadelphia to get a distribution center off the ground for a growing retailer.
In making small-talk, Mr. Munn, 40, now a Bainbridge resident, told his driver about how he graduated from the University of Notre Dame and grew up in Newbury Township.
“Where did you go to high school?” the driver asked.
“Newbury,” Mr. Munn said; but not just any school in the area, Newbury High School.
Upon hearing the driver’s response that he “got out,” Mr. Munn quickly corrected him saying this was not the case.
Mr. Munn listed his accolades as a student of the Newbury Local School District, including being class president, the captain of four different sports teams and a member of the National Honor Society, as well as receiving the Outstanding Senior Award and high recommendations from his teachers so he could attend Notre Dame, his dream college.
“Newbury allowed me to live out a childhood goal, and for that, I’m very grateful,” the 1998 graduate said as he stood with his family, recalling the events of that morning.
All Newbury graduates, the family of five gathered in one of the classrooms of the very school they attended.
Books, supplies, board games and other classroom materials stacked atop each other near the center of the classroom – ready for move-out.
As of July 1, the territory transfer of Newbury schools went into effect, and the district officially joined the West Geauga Local School District. Newbury had been a district for 93 years.
On the windows, the painted words “We Miss You” overlooked the front parking lot, a message for students during the COVID-19 school building closure that began in March and the district’s farewell drive-by parade from just a few weeks ago.
The classroom belonged to Mr. Munn’s sister, Carrie Hinkle, 38, now of Auburn Township.
Mrs. Hinkle, a 2000 Newbury graduate and a kindergarten teacher who has taught at her alma mater for 15 years, will teach at Westwood Elementary School for West Geauga this fall. A former active student of four sports and several extracurriculars herself, the alumna also coached volleyball for 16 years, basketball for 10 years and softball for five years.
The two were accompanied by their brother Ross Munn, 42, a 1996 graduate, and their parents Linda, 69, and Jeff Munn, 70, 1969 and 1967 graduates, respectively. All of whom are still Newbury residents.
Each has his or her own accolades of which they are proud, as they listed their numerous academic achievements, service to school clubs or organizations and participation in sports, earning quite the show of varsity letters between the five.
Mrs. Munn, who played basketball and ran track, said she spent time volunteering for the school and served as PTO president for a while. She also noted that it will be interesting to see her daughter teach at Westwood this fall, explaining that Jeff Munn’s grandmother, Ida Munn, had also taught at the elementary school in Chester Township.
Mr. Munn, also a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and recipient of the Outstanding Senior Award, recollected his service as co-captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams his senior year, pointing out that all three of his teams won the championships in his time playing in the 1960s.
“Oh, you’re going down that road,” teased Ross Munn, who played football, soccer, basketball and baseball at Newbury.
“We always grew up hearing about his seven championship patches on his letterman’s jacket. Between the three of us, we’ve got zero,” Scott Munn joked with his siblings.
In addition to their participation in athletics, the Munn family has a history of involvement at the district level with Newbury schools.
Scott Munn explained that three Munns have served on the school board: his great-great-grandfather, George Munn, in the 1930s; his grandfather, Carl Munn, in the 1960s; and, most recently, his dad’s cousin, Guy Munn, whose term ended in 2017 after he chose not to run for re-election.
The Munn family’s connection to Newbury runs deeper than a show of their achievements or involvement in the schools. To them, and as they are sure to many others, the district was like an extension of their family.
“We always say that we’re a Black Knight family,” Mrs. Hinkle said, a phrase shared by teachers and staff of the district. “[The transfer has] been hard these past two years.”
She mentioned that with the district being close-knit, the deaths of two staff members, Robert Michael and Donna Conoll, in October of 2018 shook up the entire district, so when news that Newbury would be closing and furthering discussions on territory transfer with either Berkshire or West Geauga schools shortly thereafter, it hit especially hard.
“Our students just have had a really rough time,” she said, explaining that it was hard to see students upset both over the loss of their teachers and knowing they were also anticipating the loss of their district. “That’s been really difficult on them,” she said, her voice becoming a whisper, “and the staff, too.”
“I made lifelong friends here,” Mrs. Munn said. “I came here my junior year, and it was like a close-knit family.”
“The school has been good to a lot of people over the years,” Ross Munn said. “A lot of people make great lifelong friends here,” he added, echoing his mother. “There’s been a lot of opportunities that people have had for themselves here; it’s been the center of the community for many, many years. It’s served Newbury [Township] very, very well and a lot of good has come out of it.
“It’s just an end of an era, I guess.”
“I just want to say, too, the teachers and the staff,” Mrs. Munn said before her voice caught in her throat. “Oh, I can’t say it,” she waved and looked away.
“Newbury gave the students who wanted to do something [the ability to] do it,” Mr. Munn took over. “[The teachers and staff] encouraged them to do it.” He explained that the district made achievement a “conscious effort on the student.
“I never would have gone to Notre Dame if I went to any other school,” he added.
“It was the teachers, it was the staff, it was all the extracurricular activities” that made the district, Mrs. Munn said. “[It’s] that small school atmosphere.
“You knew everybody,” she added, joking that “maybe you knew too much about everybody, but we all knew one another.”
“We’re extremely proud of where we come from,” Mrs. Hinkle said.
“I didn’t get out,” Scott Munn said. “No, I thrived.”