HELENA – June 6 marked the last day of the 2018-19 school year for the Helena School District.
While many children always celebrate the start of summer vacation, this year marked a significant milestone with the closing of three schools in the district.
Hundreds of students, community members and educators were in attendance for the closing ceremonies of Bryant, Jim Darcy and Central Elementary (in the Lincoln School building) on Thursday.
Superintendent Tyler Ream said the events are a way to say thank you to the community and to have a celebration for the schools.
“The schools have served thousands of students and ha[ve] meant a lot to everybody that has taken part in this building,” said Ream. “It’s a bittersweet thing to leave this building that’s been home. We’re excited about the new one, but there’s also a lot of memories and a lot to say thank you for.”
Next school year students will be in three brand new school buildings that were funded by a $63 million bond issue that was approved by voters in May 2017.
The new Bryant, Central and Jim Darcy campuses are the first newly constructed schools in the Helena School District in decades.
Jim Darcy’s principal, Brian Cummings, likened the transition to a metamorphosis. His classrooms raised butterflies for the last couple weeks of the school year to release at the closing ceremony and signify a positive transition for the school.
“Transformation and change doesn’t have to be painful,” Cummings told the crowd. “For 53 years thousands of students walked through these doors … Jim Darcy is a special spot.”
For many teachers, staff and students, the current facilities are the only schools they’ve ever known. Central’s principal, John Stilson, said even though they’re leaving, he knows they left their mark on the area, and they are so grateful for the support they’ve received.
“We’re excited to move into a new facility, but we’re also sad to say goodbye to a facility that’s really been home to us and just been a wonderful place to be,” said Stilson.
According to the school district, demolition on the old Bryant and Jim Darcy buildings may begin as early as next week in order to make way for playgrounds.
The Lincoln School building, which houses Central Elementary, will remain as it is, and the school district is still deciding what to do with the location.
This fall the school district will be holding open houses at each new school for the public.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News