Keller Citizen

A final hurrah

Suzi Schlecte, a 15-year SKI veteran, talks with students in the gym on the last day of school.
Suzi Schlecte, a 15-year SKI veteran, talks with students in the gym on the last day of school. Special to the Star-Telegram

The Farewell Tour 2016 at South Keller Intermediate School ended earlier this month to make way for the Keller Center for Advanced Learning, a career training facility for high school students.

More than a few tears were shed on June 3, the last day of school, at the “Super-Sized Send off” for students and on the following day when SKI staff members held their final faculty meeting.

To make the last year super special, Principal Trish McKeel formed a staff transition team.

“We approached it as an entire year of doing as many things as we could to honor the memories and go out with a bang,” McKeel said.

Among the events and activities included this year were:

  • All teachers and students received a “SKI: The Farewell Tour 2016” T-shirt
  • School hosted former administators and teachers for a homecoming/family reunion
  • The yearbook documented the 15-year history of the campus
  • A year-end party for students made possible with parent donations
  • Teachers received a piece of the stage floor engraved with “South Keller Intermediate School 2001-2016”

McKeel said despite the year full of construction challenges, she will remember it as one of her favorites in her career.

Like a family

Nine teachers have stayed at SKI since it opened in 2001.

Kerri Kirk, a reading intervention specialist who opened and closed the school will be at Hillwood Middle School next year. “It’s like a family,” she said. “It is really hard to leave. I’ve cried, but there are good things coming.”

Debbie Smythe, another 15-year SKI veteran, said the end of the line for the school was “bittersweet.” She would miss SKI but was pleased the district would have a career and technical education center. Next year, she will follow her students up the hill to Indian Springs Middle School.

“In 15 years I never once thought about leaving,” Smythe said. “It never occurred to me to find another job, and I think that tells you that this has been a special place.”

By the numbers

11,662: The number of students who have attended the school since 2001

9: The number of teachers who have stayed at SKI for 15 years

5: The number of principals in the school’s history