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There were no signs, no banner, no major announcement that for the first time in 90 years, the big purple doors wouldn’t be opening back up come August.
Instead, there were kites and photo booths, smiles and a feeling that while this is the end, everything should be OK.
“It’s a mix of emotion,” Mallory Trogdlen, a third grade teacher at Liberty, said of the feelings of the school’s final days. “I’m excited to see students excited for the new schools they are going to, but it’s also really sad. It’s just a rich tradition, a big family here.”
Liberty’s final day wasn’t unlike the last day of school at many other elementary schools, with fun activities and celebrations of the school year. But with all the smiles came acknowledgement that this would be the last time for something like this at Liberty.
“My students asked me if they could share their feelings this morning,” Trogdlen said. “They decided they were sappy, a combination of sad and happy.”
Many of the students agreed. While the last day was fun, there were challenges on the horizon they were greeting with mixed emotions.
“It’s kind of scary cause I won’t know that many people,” Bella Osbourne, a second-grader, said of transitioning to a new school, Locust Grove, next year. “But it’s exciting because I get to meet new people that live closer to me. I can be a good influence for other kids.”
Issac Bowman, a fellow second-grader, agreed the feelings were torn last Friday.
“I’m kind of sad,” Bowman said of Liberty’s last day. “But I’m proud cause it lasted 90 years and not a lot of schools have lasted that long.”
Mattie Wilson, who will be going to Buckner Elementary next year, said her feelings were pretty set.
“I don’t like that it’s closing down,” she said.
In addition to missing their students, Krista Hanke, a second grade teacher, said she’ll miss her fellow teachers as well.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “Everyone’s really excited to transition and go to a new school. But it’s sad to leave friends I’ve had for nine years.”
Hanke said many of the teachers and staff, who will be sent to other schools as well, have plans to maintain contact with each other.
Teachers and staff said they worked to make Liberty’s last day as normal as possible for the students, despite the lingering fate of the school.
And with more than 90 years of tradition ending, Principal Jane Smith said she hoped the school’s legacy could live on through the actions of its last class of students.
“I hope they can take the values and leadership and passion for learning with them as they go to new schools,” she said.
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