LA CROSSE, Wis. - Franklin Elementary School on the north side is just a month away from being demolished to make way for a new school.
Last November, residents voted to replace the building and combine Roosevelt, Franklin and Coulee-Montessori into one new building.
On Friday, students and staff took time to celebrate the memories in the current building while welcoming the next chapter.
Students are making their final mark on Franklin Elementary School in La Crosse by writing their names and coloring pictures on the school walls.
"A little bit sad. Sad that an era is going to be coming to an end and a new era is beginning, but tremendous excitement too," said Franklin Elementary Principal Laura Huber.
It's an era former teachers, principals and students lived out behind Franklin's walls and came back to celebrate.20478192
"I was here about 12 to 13 years part-time, teaching art right across the hall from Phylis," said former teacher Julie Chamberlain.
"I was a third-grade teacher here from 1982 to 2000," said former teacher Phylis Miletto.
"Fantastic memories. Really real memories," said former principal of 12 years Jerry Berns.
Among those taking part in the celebration is 98-year-old Margaret Miller.
"Just a youngster," said Miller.
Miller was a student at the first Franklin Elementary School and taught in the current building, starting in 1956.
"I had a lot of good times there. It was a nice place to teach. I have a lot of memories; I could go on and on," said Miller.
While there's a tinge of sadness in saying goodbye, the overwhelming atmosphere is one of excitement for what's to come.
"I hope that the students will be happy in their new school," said Miller.
"It's really about the future, and this new school -- from everything I've seen with the design -- is going to be quite the place to be, quite an educational place to learn," said Berns.
"We're just excited," said Huber.
Students do have one more half-day on Monday before officially saying goodbye.
Administrators guess they'll demolish the building sometime in July, but not before pulling out several pieces of history.
As we've been reporting, the project will merge the three Northside elementary schools into a nearly $16 million building.
The district's superintendent, Randy Nelson, said it's bittersweet, but agrees with the former teachers that the memories will last.
"Buildings come and go perhaps, but I think the wonderful memories that people make in those buildings, whether you're a teacher or a student, they're going to stay with people forever, and we certainly intend to bring those great memories into the new building as well," said Nelson.
Nelson guesses they'll break ground for the new building close to September.
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