Saying goodbye to Huntington Beach’s Park View School

Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize and OVSD Board of Trustees President Gina Clayton-Tarvin at Park View School.
Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize and Ocean View School District Board of Trustees President Gina Clayton-Tarvin take a swing at a mock wall during a demolition ceremony for Park View School on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Elaine Kuhnke used to live a block from Park View School in Huntington Beach.

In 1969, she was a seventh-grader at the school when it opened. Fast-forward 53 years, and she showed up to the same campus Friday evening to pay her respects.

The Ocean View School District has begun preparing to bulldoze the K-8 school, which stayed open until 1989. The property also housed the Huntington Beach Union High School adult school from 1994 to 2019.

Lately, the vacant site has become dilapidated and graffiti-filled, so the Board of Trustees voted in January to demolish the school to make room for green space adjacent to the Ocean View Little League fields.

A group of Park View School alumni look at photos of themselves in a yearbook during Friday's ceremony.
Andrea Talbott, left, Audrey Arellano, Theresa Brown, Susie Beal and Angela Ryan look at photos of themselves in a Park View School yearbook from 1986 during a demolition ceremony for the school on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Dozens of Park View alumni and former staff attended Friday’s demolition ceremony, really a goodbye to the campus. District Supt. Carol Hansen, Board of Trustees President Gina Clayton-Tarvin and Mayor Barbara Delgleize were among those who spoke to the crowd, which also included three City Council members and state Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen.

“We are delighted that this demolition is actually going to revitalize this neighborhood for our community,” Clayton-Tarvin said. “The good news is, we are not selling the property to make way for housing or any high-density development.”

Clayton-Tarvin and board Vice President Patricia Singer read a list of 40 items that were in a time capsule put inside Park View’s walls in 1969.

Elaine and Barry Kuhnke look over memorabilia from Park View School during a demolition ceremony for the school on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Kuhnke, who still lives in Huntington Beach, has fond memories of attending the school for a couple of years. Back then, she said it was much more open and much different from the way schools are today.

She said she shared a locker with Debbie Edwards, who now lives in Minnesota. The two are now in their 60s, but they remain friends to this day.

“There was a wonderful home [economics] program back then,” Kuhnke said. “There were sewing machines, little kitchens, so we’d come and learn how to sew and cook, bake bread. It was really great.”

Kimberlie Watt George, another alumna of the school (class of 1983), said she is in the early stages of producing a documentary about Park View.

“I’ve spoken to people who were here before I was in the 1970s, and people who were here after me in the mid-to-late ‘80s,” Watt George said. “They all say something similar. The consensus is there was something special here.”

Supt. Carol Hansen of the Ocean View School District addresses the crowd during Friday's ceremony.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The initial phase of the demolition, involving the safe removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials, has already taken place, district spokeswoman Trish Montgomery said. The rest of the demolition will take place in the coming weeks. Ledesma & Meyer Construction Co. is overseeing the project.

Clayton-Tarvin said she hopes that eventually another Ocean View Little League “Field of Dreams”-style baseball field can be constructed on the space. That would be appreciated by OVLL President Shawn Cotter, who also spoke at the ceremony. Several in-uniform Little Leaguers came over from the fields to observe.

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