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Coldbrook Elementary's last day bittersweet for employees

June 11, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER
  • Parker Miller, 9, has his face painted by art teacher Paula Conca Friday on the last-ever day of school at Coldbrook Elementary School in Chambersburg, Pa.
Kate S. Alexander, Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Any other year, the last day of school at Coldbrook Elementary School would have been filled with calls of "See you next year!" as students and teachers hugged goodbye.

Not this year.

As of 2:46 p.m. Friday, the small school closed its doors forever on Coldbrook Avenue.

It was a bittersweet day for teachers, staff and administration, said Principal Drew Nelson.

The kids, however, could have cared less if the school was closing, he said.

"Look at them," Nelson said, gesturing to a group of second-graders at recess. "The students are totally fine with it. They are just playing."

The end of the year is tough on a normal day when everyone expects to meet again in the fall, he said.

Knowing they would be each on different paths come August made the day emotional for the teachers, he said.

Coldbrook was a "one-deep" school, where there was only one classroom per grade for grades kindergarten through five, Nelson said.

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Of the six teachers who have kept the school's 120 students learning, three will be distributed throughout the Chambersburg Area School District next year, Nelson said. Where exactly they will be next year has yet to be finalized, he said.

The other three are retiring, he said.

Art teacher Paula Conca said she knows she will teach at three schools in the district next year, one of which is Falling Spring Elementary.

But Conca was not thinking about next year as she painted a mustache on 9-year-old Parker Miller's face.

Friday was all about having a good time, she said.

"It's all about fun, wrapping up a very good year and making memories," she said.

The students from Coldbrook will attend Falling Spring Elementary or Andrew Buchanan Elementary, Nelson said.

Buchanan, which Nelson also leads as principal, along with Coldbrook and Thaddeus Stevens Elementary, are mere blocks from Coldbrook, he said.

"You can walk there from here," he added, pointing down the street.

Knowing that she will teach some of her students again at Falling Spring Elementary gave comfort to Conca and her students, she said.

"It's not a total goodbye," she said. "For some of the students, it is comforting to know that they will have a friendly face where they will go."

As the smallest elementary school in the district, Coldbrook was considered for closure, along with Marion Elementary School, said district spokeswoman Sylvia Rockwood.

Marion will reopen in the fall, she said.

"This was one really big decision," she said of the choice made by the Chambersburg Area School Board to close Coldbrook. "It is always a difficult decision choosing to close a school."

Coldbrook joins Chambersburg's list of former elementary schools, which includes Duffield, King Street, Mary B. Sharpe and U.L. Gordy.

King Street, Sharpe and Gordy elementary schools were merged into Benjamin Chambers Elementary School, which is on the North Franklin Street site of the former Gordy school.

Students from Duffield went to the new Fayetteville Elementary, which was rebuilt on its site on Main Street in Fayetteville, Pa.

Teachers from Coldbrook will have the summer to clear their rooms, Nelson said.

The future of the 1954 building on Coldbrook Avenue has not been decided, Rockwood said.

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