BOURNE- The Otis Memorial Elementary and Ella F. Hoxie Elementary schools held their last, first days of school ever on Tuesday.
It was business as usual at both of the schools this week, with teachers and students falling back into their regular weekly routines.
However, for those who know and love both of the community schools, the passing of the 2008/2009 will be bittersweet.
On the one hand, the staffs of both schools are eager to move into the more modern Bourne Elementary School and Early Learning Center, which is currently under construction in Bournedale. Yet, they are less willing to part with the community schools and their unique charms.
“I think it will be sentimental,” said Otis Principal Jeanne M. Holland. “Especially as the days get closer.”
Nights devoted to celebrating the history of each school will be held during the school year at the respective schools.
At Otis, they will be constructing a timeline throughout the year that marks significant moments in the building’s history.
Hoxie School teacher Gail O’Hara has assembled the Hoxie Centennial Committee, which is organizing a fair and road race at the Hoxie School on Saturday, September 27.
Hoxie School principal for the last 12 years Debra D. Howard said the finality of this school year has just started to sink in.
For so many years, September 2009 seemed to be on the distant horizon, she said.
“It suddenly hit me that this was the last opening,” she said. “It’s a little bittersweet. On the one hand the result is good; it’s great. But it will be sad to leave this building.”
Ms. Howard said she remembered that when she first interviewed for the position of Hoxie School principal, she was taken aback by the resemblance the building had to her own elementary school.
“I can remember walking in and looking at the tall ceilings and being reminded of the School Street School I attended in Middleborough,” she said. “The interior is almost identical, and immediately I felt like I was in fourth grade again. The school has a very comfortable climate.”
There are aspects of Hoxie’s unique charm that will be sorely missed.
She said she doubts she will stumble upon any unexpected nooks and crannies in the Bourne Elementary School, as she did at Hoxie.
“Every so often I would come across a closet that I had never seen before,” she said. “It was kind of like being in a grandmother’s house.”
The curtains in the auditorium are also one of a kind, she said.
What most said they will miss about Otis and Hoxie are the less tangible elements, though. The closeness that has developed among the respective communities due to the smallness of the buildings will be difficult to recreate, they say.
Salyan D. Fanning, who has taught in Bourne for 43 years and at Otis for more than 20, said that the Otis staff forged a strong bond with each other and with the school building.
“At one point we all moved into Lyle together for about a year, and then we moved back into Otis,” she said. “We were all eager to get back. I think we work together well here.”
Ms. Fanning said, in its way, the building itself is significant to her as well. It is the place where she learned her life’s work, she said.
“There’s so many great memories of what they taught me about how to be a great teacher,” she said.
Maureen E. Fuller, a teacher and former student at Otis, said she would miss the easy routine of waking up and going to work at the school.
Ms. Fuller said she walks by the second grade classroom where she learned how to tell time as a youngster. At Otis, she said she tries to create for her students the same kind of warm memories she had about the school.
“It’s comforting,” she said. “You just want to create the same feeling of being accepted that you had.”
Otis teachers also remember the responsibility they were handed on September 11, 2001, when life on the Massachusetts Military Reservation where the school is located changed dramatically.
Ms. Holland, who became principal at Otis in 2002, said she will always remember the cooperation of the security personnel on the reservation.
She remembered one moment in particular in December of 2002 when soldiers were engaged in a security check of a school bus.
Ms. Holland said soldiers turned what could have been a frightening experience into a lighthearted one.
“One of the kids yelled out the window of the bus, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’” she recalled. “One of the soldiers responded, ‘We just heard that Santa Claus is hiding presents all over the place, we’re just checking to see if we can find anything.”
The children were thrilled, Ms. Holland remembered.
While Ms. Holland is slightly nostalgic about moving on from Otis, she is also excited about the prospect of facing a new challenge at a new building.
What excites her about the move?
“Change!” she responded after a momentary pause. “Change is thrilling to me. Something about the word just puts a smile on my face.
It Was The Last First Day At Hoxie And Otis Schools
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