Katie was in first grade in 1991 when this school celebrated its 100th year. I remember attending the celebration with a brand new Madeleine.
I helped with the redecorating project. Those handprints are actual handprints of actual kids -- not just one or two or six kids, but every single kid attending school at that time put prints on the wall! I should have counted how many handprints line those halls -- how many red and green and purple ones -- that's the kind of silly thing I'd like to know.
I helped raise money for new playground equipment after vandals wrecked what was there and the kids went for a whole year with nothing but a few swings. I painted Four Square lines on the blacktop, and a map of the United States.
Hmong women taught me how to make spring rolls in the school kitchen, and I showed them how Betty Crocker bakes a cake.
I volunteered and went on field trips and attending meetings and conferences and concerts -- oh, the concerts! There was a boy in Ali's second grade class... I can't even remember what he sang, but I remember the feeling -- still -- pure rapture.
Ali was a pansy for the Mother's Day Tea in second grade -- every student was a flower and recited a verse.
I actually cried (I wasn't the only one) when Katie finished third grade and had to go to a different school -- this school only went to third grade. I cried again today when I hugged one of those third grade teachers, just outside the door of her old room.
I attended an open house this afternoon, a farewell reunion marking the last year -- the 117th year -- this building will be used as a school. I don't know if it'll still be called "school," but it doesn't matter... just as my house is known as The So-and-So House, even though So-and-So hasn't lived here in 40 years or more (it was referred to as such even TODAY at SCHOOL talking with a man who used to live a few doors down), this place will always be School. This will always be OUR school -- Katie's and Ali's and Maddy's school. I couldn't have dreamed up a better school for my kids. I'm so sorry for the families in the neighborhood who will never know what it's like to have a school in their own community.