The End of an Era
Photos by: Brenna Metts
If you were to have walked through the old Flippin Elementary two years ago, you would be surrounded by the sound of children laughing as they ran across the playground, the gravel crunching under their feet, the bouncing of balls on the pavement, the rattling of the bridge as kids ran through the obstacle course, and the squeaking of the swings as the kids imagined they were flying. Today, if you were to walk through the old Flippin Elementary you would hear the sound of of metal grinding on metal, the rumble of bricks falling to the ground, and the whine of bulldozers. As the dust from the carnage rises, you are hit with the strong, sweet smell of books.
The old elementary has started it’s deconstruction. To some, day after day you are witnessing a little bit of an old building getting chipped away, but to the ones who once ran across that blacktop courtyard, who pretended they were flying on those swings, or who became ruler of the playground after they scaled the teepee, it is so much more than just an outdated building. Generations of students have cycled through the elementary, creating memories and friendships that would last for years to come. For some, this school became part of their career. So when they watch an excavator digging away at this building, they are actually watching the destruction of their 5th grade science lab, their kindergarten room, their library …
Flippin Elementary has entered the modern era: An era of glass walls, machine operated doors, and sensored wall projectors. Alongside these innovations, the new elementary is much safer as well, making for a better learning environment for students. It also creates a solidarity between the teachers, as they had previously been separated by several buildings. The old elementary is not being replaced in vain; the new school was well needed. Though it may be bittersweet, people can still cherish all the great memories that they had. Kylee Stoner, now an FMS math teacher, reminisced about her kindergarten and first grade years when she would race her brothers to her grandmother's kindergarten classroom after school. Kristie Sumpter, FES 2nd grade teacher, remembers playing on the old merry-go-round and trolley and says that her years in the elementary were what inspired her to become a teacher there. Other memorable parts of the elementary were the “Snake Bridge,” famously rumored by 5th graders to harbor all kinds of monsters under it; the “Kissing tree,” which witnessed many a marriage of second grade sweethearts; the Bobcat Evening Show; the intense tetherball matches; playing on the blacktop for recess when it rained; and the traffic light that monitored the lunchroom, turning red when the kids got too loud. These are just a few examples of the many different memories that were made, but new memories and traditions are to come. Jessie Jefferson, a Business teacher at FHS says:
“As for the school coming down, I am not too upset about it. I loved Flippin, which is 100% why I am here. And I made many memories in those hallways. But really, the memories are made with people, not the buildings. The buildings are just in the background of those memories... When kids talk about their memories from the new school, rarely will it include the building. Because memories aren't made about buildings. Memories are made by experiences. Their stories will probably sound very similar to my stories, they will just have a newer look to them...We cannot look backwards and move forwards. I think Flippin Schools are moving in the right direction.”
As a little bit of the school is demolished day after day, a single sign remains standing. A marquee with the words “You are loved” adds contrast to the desolation that surrounds it. It’s almost as if as the school itself is saying goodbye to its alumni, reminding them of a simpler time.