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Final Farewell to Lemont Elementary School


When Lemont Elementary’s bell rang Thursday, more than a school year concluded. The chimes ended an era.

 

Building Secretary Patti Gilligan did the honors, maintaining the school’s tradition for dismissal as students filed out past well-wishing teachers and down the front steps for the final time to punctuate 81 years of history. Built in 1938, the building for kindergarten to second grade is closing so that Lemont and its sister school, Houserville Elementary, can unite to become the new Spring Creek Elementary in the fall.

 

“It’s mixed emotions,” Gilligan said. “I’ve been here a long time, and the school has been wonderful. The people are wonderful. But in the winter time, it gets very cold. In the summertime, it gets very hot. I’m looking forward to a new beginning.”

 

Second grade teacher Bethany Fedorko also will welcome air conditioning, as well as more classroom storage space. But she’ll miss the building’s historic stone walls and cozy charm.

 

“It’s bittersweet because this is a quaint little schoolhouse,” she said. “It’s very family oriented in a small community. I know we’ll have the same family feel at Spring Creek but we’ll miss this quaint building and the closeness it’s brought us.”

 

Throughout her room and others, taped boxes sat, ready to be moved down the road. Instructional paraprofessional Sandy Ferretti paused from adding to a small mountain to reflect on the last day — both hers and the school’s. She’s retiring after 32 years with the district, 27 at Lemont, and packing brought back memories.

 

“Having this small school was very nice,” she said. “I will miss the environment and getting to know everybody. The paras, we were able to get together and talk and share ideas. We could do that in this school.”

 

Now, she said, it’s time for her colleagues to be like her and move on to another chapter.

 

“Next year, I’ll visit them in their new school and see how well they’re doing,” she said. “I know it’ll be a nice change for them.”

 

Tears flowed in Liz Mamolen’s classroom, but many seemed to be for PDS Intern Marissa Grieco, who received one clutching hug after another with shining eyes herself. Mamolen tried to console her students, noting everything must end and that “we all have exciting beginnings.” As she later thought about an unusually emotional last day all around, she took her own words to heart.

 

“We love that it’s a K-2 community,” she said. “I think that makes it special, but there are lots of things we can’t do, like coming together as a whole school with grades 3 to 5. So I think it will be nice that we will all be able to come together. It’s a little sad to say goodbye to the building, but for the most part, people are excited. We’re excited for a fresh start.”

 

By Chris Rosenblum

Video by Nabil K. Mark