Wasatch Elementary teachers, students say emotional goodbyes to old building

Jun 4 2012 - 6:55pm

Images

(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Students wrote left messages on the walls of Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Former teacher Suzanne King packs up books in the library at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Students wrote left messages on the walls of Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) The old Wasatch Elementary School sits next to the new school in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Movers pack up books in the library at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) The old Wasatch Elementary School sits next to the new school in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Students wrote left messages on the walls of Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Former teacher Suzanne King packs up books in the library at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Students wrote left messages on the walls of Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) The old Wasatch Elementary School sits next to the new school in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) Movers pack up books in the library at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) The old Wasatch Elementary School sits next to the new school in Clearfield on Monday.

CLEARFIELD -- Mere minutes after the final school bell rang at Wasatch Elementary School, demolition of the building began.

The dust hadn't settled from the students' last day of school before teachers were being ushered out by district officials and demolition crews. Teachers had until Monday evening to remove all of their classroom supplies; but even then, crews were tearing down ceiling tiles and coat racks and smashing holes into walls.

It came as no surprise to the teachers, who knew they were moving into the new school building directly to the west, but it was still difficult to watch. When five large district trucks pulled up to the school last week to haul off furniture and equipment, reality hit for literacy coach Celia Furlong.

"It is so exciting for our building. But we've had a lot of fun memories here, so there have been a lot of emotions," said a teary-eyed Furlong, who has been with the school for 13 years, some of those years as a second-grade teacher.

The new school will be well-equipped with several things the old school doesn't have. However, it won't have a long hallway where the teachers and students spent many moments relieving tension by playing Frisbee.

"We have been very close as a faculty, so to share that release and have a fun time was really nice," said Furlong, who even divulged that the faculty had spy code names for each other.

Principal Janet Sumner was not prepared for what an emotional time it would be.

"You get a lot of attachment to an old building, because it has a lot of character. So it's been really strange to watch the demolition," Sumner said.

The wrecking ball will hit the outside of the school June 18. The plan is for teachers to move into their new classrooms Aug. 23. However, the date could be adjusted if the old school isn't torn down in time to build a parking lot for the new school.

The time crunch is the reason movers and demolition crews were champing at the bit for the students to get out of school. Even the teachers started packing their things two weeks before school let out, all the while still teaching their students.

Second-grade teacher Annalisa Stewart said she stayed late numerous nights trying to get her classroom packed up. Although she knows they aren't moving far, she said it's still a hard transition.

Stewart attended Wasatch Elementary as a student, not realizing she would one day become a teacher at the school.

"Even though it's kind of sad, we do need a better school for the students -- one that is more seismically sound. But it is bittersweet," she said.

The students said goodbye to their school Friday by drawing messages and pictures on the school walls, something that is normally against the rules.

"Some kids were really upset, and kept asking if we were sure it was OK to draw on the walls," Stewart said.

It's not something the students will ever get a chance to do at the new school, which comes with several new features, including an actual drop-off zone for cars. The old school's drop-off zone was merely one side of the school designated for the job.

The new school will also have a walking path in working condition, several steps up from the old walking path that was falling apart, with tree roots growing through numerous sections.

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