It was a sad day in Monterey yesterday as the elementary school closed for the last time. In a building that had students enrolled since 1934, there were hugs and tears on that final day.
“We had an awards program this morning and prior to that, we had a photographer come and he took a picture of all the staff and students out in front of the building,” said Principal Julie Berndt of the last day. “At the end of the program, we surprised the kids by loading them up in school buses and the fire department led us through town with the sirens screaming. We took two laps around town and the kids really enjoyed it as well as the staff.”
“It’s bittersweet,” said Chris Rinker, an Elementary teacher who attended the school as a student at one time. “It’s really nice to see the community come together and share in our sadness. We just wish the best for everybody. We wished the building was going to stay open, but it can’t.”
“I have to say that I’m just heartbroken,” said Becky Riser, a teacher in the school for 13 years and who also was a student at Monterey Elementary. “This has been a very difficult process. The kids left today feeling like they really got a farewell. We had a lot of wonderful activities today. We really hope to heal over the summer and start fresh in the fall.”
“Its very sad. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it,” said Pam Craft.
Becky Risner said she was worried what will now happen to the town.
“I’m very concerned about that. I really am. We just built our house five years ago and that does affect the value. It’s going to affect everyone’s home value and I’m worried about the g]few small businesses we have here. The kids won’t be here and the teachers won’t be driving in everyday. I’m very concerned and I think that there will probably be people move out of the area because the convenience of your kid walking to school or dropping them off or having them right down the road, that won’t be there anymore. I’m worried about what’s going to happen to our town.”
The school fell victim to a funding formula that finds Monterey’s parent school, Culver Community, scrambling to save money.