Yesterday I got a chance to say good-bye to a piece of my childhood. The elementary school I went to is being torn down after the first of the year. The school hosted a "Memory Walk" event yesterday for one last look at the building and to share memories.
The school is being replaced with a new, modern, state-of-the-art building that will open to students after the Christmas break. The current school was built in 1963 and has been a part of the neighborhood I grew up in for my entire life. We played on the playground equipment during summer vacations. We went sledding down the hill behind the school during snow days. Every summer, about a week or so before school was scheduled to start, we would walk up the hill to the school to check out the list to see which teacher we got and who else would be in our classroom. We walked to school every day. I remember wearing a pair of pants under my dress when we walked to school during the winter so my legs wouldn’t freeze.
It’s going to seem strange to go out to visit the folks and not drive past the school on the hill. The new school is being built up the road from the old school. Just outside the neighborhood. A good number of the kids will have to start taking the bus to school.
The school seemed so small to me. Since my sisters and brother still live in the neighborhood that we grew up in, I’ve been back to the school several times for various things. School concerts, festivals, Community Involvement Group parties. But this was different. This was the last time that I was going to be able to walk the halls and peek into the different rooms. This time I really looked at the building and the rooms.
My little sister and I walked through the halls and reminisced about which teacher was in which room and what rooms we spent our school years in. I was shocked at how small the school seemed. I swear some of those rooms had the same desks that were there when I was a student. The chairs seemed so little. The rooms seemed so small. I even made a point to go into one of the girls restrooms . . . and it was EXACTLY like I remembered it!! The gym seemed smaller, too. But that turned out to be a good thing because I could make a basket from the three point line – something that I was not able to do during all those years of gym class.
I was also sad to say the event was poorly planned and poorly organized. There were probably three or four of the current teachers there. There were only a few of the older teachers there. My first grade teacher was there and SHE REMEMBERED ME! It’s been over 35 years since I was in the first grade and she remembered me?! Wow that really surprised me – I thought I was going to have to explain when I was in her class. Her face lit up the minute I mentioned my name. She looked basically the same . . . just smaller and older than I remembered. There were a few photo albums and old yearbooks, but nothing from before 1984. Nothing from the years that I went there. No class photos. No mementos.
But maybe the important mementos were the ones we carried around with us as we walked the halls . . .