WSB's Sandra Parrish and her father, Ralph Parrish, visited Atherton Elementary School in DeKalb County during a Career Day in May, 2011. Mr. Parrish was principal at Atherton from 1964-1981, and Sandra attended school there.
Four of Atherton Elementary's six principals over its 47 years visited the school for a send-off celebration on the last day of the school's existence. L-R: Dr. A. Clifton Myles (2009-2011), Dr. Jamie Wilson (2001-2005), Mrs. Patti C. Reid (1996-2001), Mrs. Myra Warner, (wife of Dr. Paul Warner (1981-1996), Mr. Ralph Parrish (1964-1981)
The last day of school really is the very last day of school at some DeKalb County schools.
As DeKalb brings its school year to a close, eight schools will be closing for good. The school board voted in March to close six elementary schools: Atherton, Glen Haven, Gresham Park, Peachcrest, Medlock and Sky Haven Elementary Schools, as well as Avondale Middle School and High Schools.
Board members say it will save the school system $12.4 million.
On the campus of Atherton Elementary, administrators announced a "Fun Day" for a send-off celebration that included four of the six principals the school has had in its 47 years.
"I just got started at Atherton Elementary School," says principal Clifton Myles, who took over after the CRCT cheating scandal broke in 2008. "It has been an interesting experience because I see what can possibly happen for this community."
Parent Brenda Ethridge has fond memories of Atherton. She went there as a girl, and now her children do.
"I've never come up here and not received a smile," she tells WSB's Sandra Parrish. "It's truly going to be missed in the neighborhood."
Parrish and her father, Ralph (pictured), also have a long history at Atherton. Sandra attended the school and her father was principal there when it opened in 1964 until his retirement in 1981.
About 7,000 children in the district will be reassigned to new schools in the district. Most of the teachers will be transferred to other county schools, too.
"It feels like we're all being split apart now. It's just a sad day," says Ethridge.
Students looked for the silver lining on the dark cloud of having the school bells ring for the last time ever at Atherton.
"It's kind of okay, because you get to make new friends," says 4th-grader Shellikay Allen, "but all the memories here, you don't want to let go."
"I'm sad because I won't see my friends, but I'm glad I get to go to another school and meet new friends," said 3rd-grader Diovanni Johnson.
Fifth-grader Mikayla Hickson said her school doesn't deserve to close, and took a practical view to express her displeasure about all the students being shifted around.
"The neighborhood won't have a neighborhood school, so they have to find another school that's far away from where they live."