Uptown’s most prominent school building is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The stately building at the northeast corner of S. State and Park streets opened in 1922 as the new Westerville Junior-Senior High School.
Today of course, the same building is Hanby Elementary, 56 S. State St. Its new principal, Caley Nestor Baker, said the Hanby community will spend this whole school year celebrating the 100-year milestone.
“We want to do things throughout the year,” she said. “We’ll be getting kids out in the community and bringing the community in.”
Public kickoff at September 4th Friday
The September 4th Friday festival, set for Sept. 23, will see a “Walk Down Memory Lane” set up on Hanby’s front lawn, Nestor Baker said.
An audio booth – for former students and parents to record their memories of the school – and a photo booth with props from different decades past, will be part of the event. The social media hashtag #Hanby100 will be used to spread the word online.
School officials hope to use “living interviews” with alumni as the launch point for current students to study the history of the school. A different decade will be featured monthly, with a Decade Day celebrated at the end of each.
The look back will begin with the 2010s, and progress backward.
Other ideas are under consideration. It’s rumored that Hanby once had a school song, but it has been lost to history, Nestor Baker said. Today’s Hanby students may take up the task of creating a new one.
A rich century of history
Over its century of use, the building has filled many roles for the Westerville City School District.
Designed by Columbus architect F. F. Glass and built at a cost of $165,019, it contained classrooms, a gymnasium, and an auditorium that could seat 700.
When the building opened, it became the Westerville Junior-Senior High School and the old Vine Street School – today Emerson Elementary – was transitioned to new use. The Vine Street school, built in 1896 and enlarged in 1908, housed all grade levels until the Hanby building opened.
But growth of the community led to severe overcrowding, and the Westerville school system briefly lost its accreditation in 1921 – adding urgency for the new school to open. The building today known as Hanby opened on Nov. 9, 1923, and served as the Junior-Senior High School until 1960.
When the next new Westerville High School – now Westerville South High School – opened on South Otterbein Avenue in 1960, the State Street building was renamed Hanby, in honor of early Westerville resident and famed composer, Benjamin Hanby.
How many different uses has Hanby had? According to a flyer produced for its 80th anniversary and updated for its 90th, here’s a list that may not be complete:
Also according to the school history flyer:
In 2002, Hanby Elementary became Hanby Arts Magnet School. The program utilized an arts-integrated approach in all areas of the curriculum. That approach remains evident inside and outside the building. The iconic stained-glass transom window above the center State Street doors was designed and created by students and parents. The five colors in the window represent the five grades, 1-5, and the name Hanby can be read from both inside and outside the building.
In 2012, the Math and Science magnet strand was added at Hanby, with a curriculum that makes connections between concepts of math and science in all areas of study. Practicing mathematicians and scientists are brought in grow students’ understanding of how math and science can affect future employment and success.
The current approach investigates the intersections between Math, Science and the Arts, or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), while maintaining the uniqueness of the two magnet programs.
Changes for 2022-23
Nestor Baker in July was named the new principal of Hanby, replacing Megan Rose Forman. The Westerville native and Westerville schools graduate has been an educator in the district for 15 years, previously serving as a classroom teacher, an educational technology coach, and the district’s gifted programs coordinator.
Besides a new leader in the principal’s office, Hanby welcomed an additional six classrooms of students this fall. Enrollment is at 360 and the building now houses two classes each in grades 1-5 – one for each magnet program – plus two classrooms for the districtwide gifted student program for grades 3-5.
That’s a full 16 classes of students, and for the first time in many years, no district administrative staff is housed in the building.
“I think it’s an exciting time for Hanby,” Nestor Baker said. “Not only do we have the benchmark (100th anniversary), we have more students and teachers. It brings energy.”
“I’m excited to be here as we make the turn into the next century,” she added.