It was a bitter-sweet gathering last week when cars lined up for a final drive past the stadium and buildings of the Newbury Local School District off Auburn Road.

Sweet because the familiar faces of teachers, principals, secretaries and other workers lined the car parade path waving orange and black paddles inscribed with Newbury’s mascot, the Black Knight.

Bitter because this would be the last time students could gather as a school before the rural district becomes part of the West Geauga Local School District through a territory transfer on July 1.

The small Geauga County district, dating back to 1927, has over the years faced declining enrollment and budget challenges. That meant that change eventually had to come.

While the car parade with balloons, honking horns, the marching band performing and cheering was wonderful, it was not exactly the sendoff planners had in mind. Health restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic meant no large crowds, the need for social distancing and face masks to keep everyone safe.

The statewide closing of school buildings in mid-March made the last days of the Newbury school district even more disappointing. Students, parents and alumni had no chance to walk the halls of the buildings, peek into the science rooms or jiggle the locker handles one last time.

Despite this, the gathering was upbeat. Principal Michael Chaffee, who has been overseeing grades five through 12, described the parade as a family reunion because of the strong family environment that has been built up at the district over the years.

The fate of the grounds and buildings are in limbo as the West G and Newbury school boards discuss options.

We’re optimistic that the coming academic year will be filled with excitement for students heading to West G or other districts. Memories, no doubt, will linger. Black Knights forever!

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