After serving as one of Bourne’s educational institutions for 64 years, the James F. Peebles Elementary School saw its last class of students leave through its doors last Friday, June 12.
“It was—I don’t even know how to describe it,” Principal Jane Norton said about the last day of school, “Emotional and joyful at the same time.”
The night before the last day of school, the Peebles staff held a “Last Hurrah Staff Party,” so they could have a fun and lighthearted evening before what was a heavier, more emotional morning the next day.
The hardest part of the last day of school was saying goodbye to the school’s youngest students.
“Saying goodbye to the kids was hard,” Ms. Norton said. “We won’t see the kindergarten kids for a while.”
Because the district is shifting to a grade span alignment, the youngest students will head in the coming school year to the Bournedale Elementary School.
Peebles secretary Lisa Niland, who will be at the Bourne Intermediate School next year, said that it will be an adjustment to not see the students grow up, starting from kindergarten. However she has reason to be excited about the change to grade span schools.
“I love that they’re going to be moving up all together,” she said.
Before the students left for the summer, they gathered outside the school to take a photograph of all of the students and staff of the Peebles School. They also filmed a short video to air on Boston NewsCenter 5’s “EyeOpener” segment. Ms. Norton said the staff held up signs to send the children off for the summer as the buses pulled away.
As emotional as the day had been, Ms. Norton said that the buses were “rocking” as they left the school.
“We ended the year on a very positive, upbeat note,” she said.
After the children left, the staff got together for a faculty meeting and lunch. Ms. Norton said that she gave each staff member the book “I Wish You More.” She said the meeting was a nice time to talk about their feelings about the day and their experiences in the building.
Ms. Norton will be the principal of the intermediate school next year.
Now, a week after the last day of school, the building has been all but packed and emptied. The letters on the front of the building that spelled out “James F. Peebles School” have been partially taken down—Ms. Norton said that the letters for “Peebles School” will have a new home in the Bourne Intermediate School.
The school’s playground equipment has been torn down and its remains lie in a heap against the building in the courtyard. Classrooms are filled with packed boxes, notes indicating which items are trash, and not much else.
In one hallway, unused educational magazines litter the floor.
Computers have been lined up, ready for the movers to bring them into their new home—the nearly completed Bourne Intermediate School—across the parking lot. The moving process will begin next week with moving trucks and crews going to each of the affected schools—namely Bournedale Elementary School and Bourne Middle School—to pick up anything that needs to go into the intermediate school.
Teachers will likely be able to get into the new school to set up their classrooms in early August, Ms. Norton said.
Construction crews have torn up the parking lot in front of the Peebles building and a sign on the gate at the school’s entrance indicates that there are times where people will be unable to access the property. Preparing the grounds of the new school has become a high priority for the crew.
Once the new building is complete, the construction crew will begin preparing for the demolition of the Peebles School. Despite its having fallen into disrepair over the years, Ms. Norton said there was a lot of love in town for the school building.
She said that some teachers at Peebles had taught there for more than 20 years. Earlier this month, the school hosted an “End of an Era” evening where people could share their memories of the school and look at photographs from the years gone by. Ms. Norton said that hundreds of people attended that event.
“It’s truly a neighborhood school that everyone loves,” she said. “I’m humbled and overwhelmed at the same time.”
When the new school opens, Bournedale will become a school for all of the district’s preschool through 2nd graders, the intermediate school will educate the district’s 3rd through 5th graders, and the middle school will be for 6th through 8th grade.