Elementary school closingRob Vander Giessen-Reitsma

According to sources, Huss Elementary, along with Johnnycake School, closed at the end of the 1981-82 academic year due to dwindling enrollment and rising costs. At the time of its closing, Huss had 280 students. With the closure of Huss School, the Three Rivers school system witnessed tremendous changes.  Included in these changes was a redistribution of the school districts and the overall grade system in the Three Rivers school system. Continuing and future Huss students were relocated to several surrounding elementary schools, according to where they lived in Second Ward. Students living west of South Main St. transferred to Lake Section elementary, located in the rural district. Those living between South Main and 8th Street relocated to Andrews School in Third Ward, and those east of 8th and south of Canal went to Barrows, in Fourth Ward. Students living between Canal and the St. Joseph River were bussed to Hoppin Elementary, located in the First Ward school district. On top of all this, sixth grade students, which were the oldest class in elementary at the time, were placed in middle school, with seventh and eighth graders.

Along with Huss’ closure, many of the staff and faculty were reassigned to other locations, but seventeen staff members were laid off entirely. Huss and Johnnycake’s closure is estimated to have saved Three Rivers Community Schools around $250,000. Overall, around 10,000 individual students had walked through the halls of Huss elementary at some point.

The Huss School property was not completely abandoned, however. Shortly after its closure, proposals to utilize the school space were discussed by the school board. After two years of vacancy, Huss was reopened as an adult educational center. At the time, Huss offered the needed day courses for one to complete a GED. Huss continued operation as an adult education center, and then expanded to include children’s after-school programs, making Huss a gathering place for all ages. The use of the Huss School for additional programming continued until 2006, when Huss’ doors were closed again.