Huntington’s doors close for good

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

FERRIDAY — School’s out for — ever.

With the end of final exams Friday, students at Huntington School walked out the doors for the last time, creating for them a strange juxtaposition of emotions.

“You feel good that it’s summer, but you want to come back next year,” 13-year-old Molly Loomis said.

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Declining enrollment has been a problem for Huntington School for some time, and this year was the year in which it declined just a little too much, forcing the school’s board of directors to decide to end operations at the school with the end of the academic year.

Students and staff alike have known this day was coming for a while, officially since April, but several said they had their suspicions things would end this way for most of the school year.

The reality of the closure hit home Friday for 13-year-old Tori Edwards, who has attended the school since kindergarten but in the fall will be enrolled at Cathedral School in Natchez.

“I will have to get used to the idea, have to meet new people,” she said, her eyes brimming with tears. “It’s really hard leaving all of my friends.”

Students made their way through the halls, taking pictures with their friends and taking a last look at photographs on the walls they have passed every day for years. Others hugged teachers goodbye.

Keisha Smith stood in the hall with several friends, joking that even though they won’t be in school anymore they will ultimately end up in the same nursing home, trying to remember their days at Huntington together.

“We are all going to spread out, and it’s sad, because we’ve all been together since kindergarten,” she said.

Students weren’t the only ones fighting the feelings, Huntington Elementary Coordinator Emily Guida said.

“We all have our moments when it feels fine, but sometimes you have to go off and let the tears flow,” she said.

Cole Hornsby, who said he was going to attend Vidalia next year, said he wasn’t happy to be leaving Huntington but that life would go on.

“I’m going to go play sports and keep making good grades,” he said.

During the last few weeks, Guida said students have been approaching her, asking if they can have something off the walls, a little piece of Huntington memorabilia to take with them.

“I have almost expected somebody to come up with a hammer and tap off a little piece of the wall,” she said.

While she hasn’t allowed students to take what they want, Guida said the next few weeks will be spent inventorying school property. Some items will be donated, some will be sold. Plans are under way to ensure that old school trophies and other paraphernalia will be on display in Ferriday past the school office’s final closure.

“We are trying to have things that mean something to everybody as accessible to everybody as we can,” Guida said.

Plans for what will happen to the school property have not been finalized, and Guida said the Huntington Corporation will continue to exist after the school closure to allow the board to attend to final matters.

The school office will be open for the next two weeks, and parents should come by to pick up report cards and final school records on May 27 and 28.

After that, the office will be open on Wednesdays, and Aug. 25 will be the last day Huntington officially has any staff.

Guida said she told students their last day should be a happy day.

“I told them I want them to leave with pride and dignity and represent Huntington well,” she said. “We want to remember the good times.”

“I want them to remember their days at Huntington, but we all have to move forward.”