Goodbye, hello: Eagle Valley Elementary School Homecoming brings staff, alumni back to their roots, into their future | VailDaily.com

Goodbye, hello: Eagle Valley Elementary School Homecoming brings staff, alumni back to their roots, into their future

EAGLE — Forty-five years after students first strolled through its brand-new doors, some of those same people strolled into Eagle Valley Elementary School to say goodbye.

Eagle Valley Elementary is one of the voter-approved bond projects up and down the valley. The old building was perfectly serviceable for those four decades, although it desperately needed to be replaced.

It will be.

The new building, a strong 5-iron shot away from the old one, is scheduled to be ready for classes this fall. The old one will be long gone by then. Teachers and staff have been packing up their classrooms, preparing for the move.

Homecoming, home leaving

A few weeks ago, alumni, teachers and staff strolled the old building's halls for one last look around.

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John Reimers was there. He served as Eagle Valley's principal for years. Like so many others, Reimers was a young man when, on his way to somewhere else, he stopped in Eagle on a whim.

Sheila Fritze was the librarian. Husband Jim worked up the street as Eagle County's attorney. If you or your children were there, then chances are good they came under Nancy Gamble's caring instruction, or kindergarten queen Kristine Atkinson's, or any number of other educators who made sure we and our children got started right.

Longtime local math teacher George McCollum headed Eagle's Castle Masonic Lodge on Sept. 22, 1973, when the building was brand new and Colorado Masons placed the Cornerstone dedicating the new building. If most things in your life add up correctly, then chances are you learned it from him.

Renowned children's book illustrator Janet Stephens enjoyed traveling to the valley and came to EVES almost every year. Current Principal Tiffany Daugherty made sure some of Stephens' signed work was featured in the Homecoming's silent auction.

Where it all started

Reimers was a freshly minted teacher looking for a job and stopped in the Eagle Pharmacy and Nearly Everything Store.

He struck up a conversation with some locals to pass the time, as folks will do. A guy who knew a guy who knew someone called Leonard Hammock, superintendent of Eagle County Schools in 1971, to ask if there were any local openings.

There were.

"I'm in my T-shirt and jeans and I went downtown to the district office to interview with Leonard. Three days later, I had a contract," Reimer said.

Instead of migrating somewhere else, Reimers stayed here 24 years, starting as a high school teacher, then counselor, then as Eagle Valley Elementary School principal.

"This is where I learned it all," Reimers said.

John and Julie Reimers have been married 36 years.

He was her teacher at Eagle Valley High School. He's quick to point out that they did not date until well after her commencement.

Kids are no different, but their parents are.

"Kids just want to learn and know where boundaries are," Reimers said.

He took over a few other elementary schools on the Front Range before calling it a career, but EVES is where he learned how it's done.

"Those other schools, I'd have 350 to 400 discipline referrals to the office," he said.

By his second year in those schools, he was at fewer than 100. EVES, by the way, started at fewer than 100 and stayed there.

They left in 1995, but were back for the EVES homecoming, one of the last public events in the building before it comes down.

"This was a good school. It still is. I had a good staff. Our test scores went up, the teachers were good and discipline was great," Reimer said. "It was fun."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.