GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Students at one Southern Oregon elementary school celebrated the start of summer when the bell rang at the end of the day. School faculty and alumni, on the other hand, fought back tears signaling the end of a historic school.
When the bell rang for the final time at Jerome Prairie Elementary School on Friday afternoon, it didn’t just signify the end of the school year, but the end of an era.
For the first time in more than a hundred years, there will be no students filing through the doors at Jerome Prairie Elementary School this fall. Friday school let out for summer break and the school will be shutting its doors.
An open house was held Friday for alumni and community members to look at old photographs and walk down memory lane. Principal Lise Van Brunt says the district put off closing the school as long as it could, but it was decided earlier this year that this was the end.
“Our district has about 200 less students than it’s had in the last 12 years. We have a lot of emptiness around our district and our funds continue to get less and less,” said Principal Van Brunt.
Over the years, the building has been expanded, renovated, and added onto. Principal Van Brunt says the district wants to hang onto those buildings as it is possible the community will grow in the future and the school could once again open.
Both faculty and families of students past and present agree, “There’s no better place to learn than Jerome Prairie Elementary school.”