School closes for massive renovation
By B.C. Manion
Children streamed off of the yellow buses toward the entry of Quail Hollow Elementary, 7050 Quail Hollow Blvd., heading to class.
Along the way, they stopped to pick up free pencils to celebrate the last day of school.
Gwen Schulman, an intervention specialist, stood at the school’s entrance doling out the pencils and greeting the youngsters as they streamed in.
“Happy last day,” she said brightly.
“That’s awesome. Free stuff,” one boy said, as he clutched his new pencil and headed into school.
As children flowed into the main corridor, they were greeted by an office staff that was jamming out to a remix of “Dynamite,” by Kidz Bop.
Their dance moves inspired the kids, who – in a scene reminiscent of an episode of ‘Glee” – began making a few moves of their own.
Next, the school’s morning program came on, with a student leading the rest of the school in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Quail Hollow pledge.
The school pledge, which conveys the school’s expected code of behavior, goes like this:
“We will: Quietly listen to others. Use respect with our words and actions. Always be prepared. Insist on excellence. Learn and do our best.”
The words are emblazoned on a wall near the school’s office, and Principal Michelle Berger said they remind everyone in the school how to treat others.
The final day of classes at Quail Hollow is always an emotional day, the principal said, but this year it was particularly poignant because the school is expected to be closed for two years while the building is reconstructed.
The neighborhood elementary school, which has served generations of families, is being closed after this school year to accommodate a massive makeover.
The changes will provide walls, windows and doors in a school designed with an open environment, at a time when such an arrangement was thought would benefit children.
Closing the school means adjustments for children, families and school staff.
“Half of our kids are going to Watergrass (Elementary) and half are going to Wesley Chapel (Elementary),” Berger said.
The school’s staff is being split up, too, but everyone has a job for next school year, the principal said.
Berger, who has been at Quail Hollow since March of 2007, said learning in February that the school would be closing at the end of the year was a jolt.
“We’re all very sad to leave Quail Hollow. We’re a family,” Schulman said. “It’s always sad to split up a family. Change is always hard. It’s hard for the adults, and it’s hard for the kids.”
Nora Neuber, a school volunteer, said many people found the news hard to accept.
“It’s hard to see all of the people scattered,” Neuber said. “That’s the hard part.”
She thinks there are also concerns that the school’s atmosphere will change permanently, if a new principal comes.
If that happens, she said, “the traditions can change. I think that’s one of the things that has parents worried.”
Marina Lofley, a student from Land O’ Lakes High who works in the school office, said some families who have a long history with the school find it sad to see it go.
“We’ve had a lot of parents come and they want to be toured around the school just to see it one last time,” Lofley said.
“We’ve heard some parents say their kids are being separated from all their friends, and it’s going to be hard,” Lofley said.
Samantha White’s son, Justin, will be entering fourth grade next year, so he won’t be back at Quail Hollow, she said. Her other son, Jacob, is entering kindergarten. He’ll be returning to Quail Hollow when it reopens.
While children are being moved to new schools temporarily, there is an upside, she said. “We’ll be getting a new school.”
Berger said when she met with her staff to talk about the school’s temporary closing, she said: “Raise your hand, if you wish we had windows, walls and doors.”
“The only way to get them is to empty the building,” Berger said, because the school is so open that it’s impossible to work in one part without disrupting everyone else.
Lofley thinks there’s also an upside for the kids who will be attending new schools next year. “They’ll be able to make new friends,” the office worker said. “Everything happens for a reason.”
Just the same, despite the upbeat attitude on display at Quail Hollow on the final day of classes June 4, there was an undercurrent of sadness for the loss of community and camaraderie that will be felt, at least temporaily until the school reopens.
One woman, dropping off a child at school on that last day, paused and told the office staff: “Thank you for a good school year.”
“Enjoy your next school,” an office worker replied, with a broad smile.
“I know,” the woman said. “We’re going to miss coming here.”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.