Steve Gabbie said he hadn’t stepped foot on South Elementary School since his grade school days concluded in 1964. The Lodi resident returned at a community open house to walk through the halls and classrooms, taking one last look at the place where he “spent some really great years as an elementary school student,” he said.
Gabbie, a 1970 graduate of Webb High School, recalled memories like lip syncing to Beatles songs in the music room with three other students. He also recalled other times he was at South Elementary School when he heard word of national events, like a teacher informing students then U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He also recalled selling concessions at basketball games.
South Elementary School Secretary Barb James said the South School Parent Teacher Organization created a sub-committee to organize the open house as a way for community members, current and former students and staff to share memories and take one last look at the building. The open house was held May 28 at South Elementary School, two weeks before the districts last day of school on June 11. It is the last day the building, which serves grades K-3, will operate as an elementary school and the over 80 year old building at 420 Plum Street will close.
A video giving a tour of the building, artifacts from the Reedsburg Area Historical Society, old pictures and yearbooks from different decades were on display to tell the history of South Elementary School. Commemorative t-shirts were available for sale. Attendees were free to roam around the school to reminisce their elementary school days and see how much the building has changed.
Reedsburg resident Kyle Hinze found pictures from his time at South Elementary School, a class field trip to a maple sap farm, a Halloween party and when Ronald McDonald visited the school.
He attended the elementary school from 1999 to 2005 in grades K-5. He is the third generation in his family to attend the school after his father, Jon, and grandmother, Joyce. His sister’s, Heather and Sara Hinze, also attended South Elementary School.
Reedsburg resident Brandon Winchell, a 2006 graduate of Reedsburg Area High School, discovered similar memories looking through yearbooks and pictures.
“There’s a lot of memories here,” Winchell said. “It was really fun going here. (It was) very, very good teachers and so close knit.”
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South Elementary School started serving students from the east side of the Baraboo River in 1937, as a kindergarten through all grade building. South Elementary School Principal Paul Bierman said he will miss the gymnasium of South Elementary School because its hosted many activities, like high school prom, speed jump roping competitions and Reedsburg area youth basketball games.
“It’s been utilized a lot,” Bierman said.
South Elementary School’s replacement will be Prairie Ridge Intermediate School, the $28 million building on Reedsburg Road as a part of the district’s $32 million referendum passed in October 2017. The 106,000 square foot building is scheduled to open at the start of the 2019-20 school year serving grades 3-5.
Ann Putnam, a 41 year teacher for the school district, taught at South Elementary School for 35 years and lives in Reedsburg. Putnam said it was “a little bittersweet” the building will close, but she understands the districts need for the new school to provide students a better learning environment.
“I’m sorry to see it go,” Putnam said. “But I know at the new school there will be lots of opportunities.”
“Advancement is always nice,” he said. “But it is always going to be sad to see this place go.”