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The gym is gone, but the memories live on

Work begins on new gym for Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford
An architect’s rendering shows the new gym and renovated entrance for Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford. The $4,359,000 facility replaces the original gym built in 1936, expands the kitchen, and provides a storm shelter. (Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering)

OXFORD– A big piece of Oxford’s history was reduced to rubble last week.
The gym at Clear Creek Elementary fell victim to a large yellow Caterpillar track hoe excavator, and was hauled off one truckload of debris at a time. The gym, built in 1936, had become outdated, and too small. In its place, a new and larger gym will be built at a cost of $4,359,000, one of the final projects for the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District to be funded by a voter approved bond issue in 2017.
The new gym will also serve as a storm shelter for the school, similar to the gym at Oak Hill Elementary in Tiffin, with a capacity of 999. In addition, the school’s kitchen will be expanded and renovated to provide more adequate storage space and improve functionality, with updated equipment and finishes. An elevator will be installed to allow access to the main and upper levels of the facility. Restrooms and storage space will also be included in the project.
Erin Hackathorn, an Oxford native and owner of an Oxford history blog (https://historicaloxfordiowa.wordpress.com) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/historicaloxfordiowa/) did some research in the Oxford Centennial book and found the original school was built in 1900 with the gym added in 1936.
“The school was an old, three-story brick structure that originally housed kindergarten through 12th grade (and was torn down in the ‘80s),” Hackathorn said. In the 1960s Oxford, Tiffin, and Cosgrove schools merged to form the Clear Creek Community School District, and the class of 1969 was the last graduating class to attend the Oxford school. Hackathorn wrote on her blog, “I have many fond memories of the gym from playing dodge ball, to sitting under a parachute with my classmates, to caucusing as an adult.”
Suzy Swenka Barker, currently living in Tiffin, shared her memories of the gym with the Leader. “Fourth Grade... new principal... Mr. Baker... we all gathered in that gym (it was always a mad dash to fight to get to sit in the two little seats that were apart from all the other bleachers) for an assembly on the first day of school... rumors were circulating that this new principal spanked kids. He starts the assembly by saying, ‘I've heard a rumor that I spank kids. I have NEVER spanked a kid with these hands,’ he went on, followed by a seemingly endless pause during which you could hear a pin drop. ‘I use THIS!’ he exclaimed while pulling a wooden paddle out of the back of his pants. This was followed by an audible, echoing gasp in that Oxford gym! I remember this vividly, as though it were yesterday!”
Iowa City based McComas-Lacina Construction is the general contractor for the project designed by Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering. The expected completion date for the project is Oct. 31 of this year.