Brief History of Onaway Schools
Onaway Area Schools was once a number of schools but is now one unified building, K-12. In the earliest days, buildings in local areas such as Tower, Millersburg, Waverly, and Hackett Lake fed elementary and/or junior high students into the Onaway High School. Over time, finances dictated that the district operate more efficiently, and gradually those local schools closed.
Today students from a very large area attend the modern, impressive school building located just south of Onaway on M-33. The present building replaced an older one situated in the town of Onaway. This was the dream of Floyd Merritt, the superintendent at the time, and he worked tirelessly along with the board, staff, and community, to provide Onaway’s students with a facility they could be proud of. The new school, opened in 1963, was all on one level, had room for a track and a football field, and offered large, spacious classrooms with modern equipment.
The new school was soon packed with students, however, as attendance peaked in the 1970s. The typical graduating class topped a hundred students, and the building bustled from morning till night. Lunch periods had to be staggered to accommodate the numbers to be fed. The gym was divided in two with a curtain so that two classes could be held at once. And study halls overflowed with students: some on chairs in a corner, some even sitting on the floor.
By the early 2000s, the building needed a major overhaul. The board and Superintendent Bob Szymoniak accomplished this through a bond issue, expanding the structure in several directions to create a modern media center, a new band room, several more classrooms, and improved computer access. Renovations were completed in 2004.
Today, students at Onaway can say with pride that their community supports them to the best of its ability, providing a strong staff, an efficiently run system, and a great learning environment.
Thanks to Peggy Herring for contributing this article! www.pegherring.com