The Mansfield school district took out the final elementary school building set to be torn down and rebuilt on the same site June 22, bringing the boom down on Charlotte Anderson Elementary.
A small crowd of former teachers and students watched, some in awe and some with sadness, as the walls of the former first-grade classes fell under the assault of heavy machinery.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Jennifer Kurecka, the school’s receptionist who was videoing the demolition. “We’re excited to get a new building. There’s a lot of history here. That particular room was the first-grade class for two of my girls. I don’t know if there’s a room that doesn’t hold memories.
“We talked about it as a family,” Kurecka said. “It’s a building. Our memories go with us. We’ll create new ones.”
Students and staff will share the Judy K. Miller Elementary campus, 403 N. Holland Road, for the next year until Charlotte Anderson is rebuilt on the same site. The 30-year-old school is the last of five elementary schools to be demolished after voters approved a $198.5 million bond in 2011 that included construction of five new campuses. Glenn Harmon Elementary students are scheduled to move into their rebuilt school at 5700 Petra Drive in Arlington this fall. Tarver-Rendon, J.L. Boren and Alice Ponder elementaries have already been demolished and rebuilt.
Charlotte Anderson is expected to be the fastest school to build, though, slated to be completed in 15 months compared to 18 months for the other schools. The new Charlotte Anderson Elementary is scheduled to open in fall 2017.
“We’re doing a few things differently,” said Jeff Brogden, associate superintendent of facilities and bond programs. “The lot is so wooded that we aren’t able to use geothermal heating and air conditioning. The wells would be devastating to the trees. We’re going to use high-efficiency rooftop units.”
The new Charlotte Anderson building won’t only be newer, it will be larger, going from 69,947 square feet to 81,769 square feet, according to Brogden.
“This school has always been too small,” said Merry McDuff, who lives a block away. “They built Carol Holt (Elementary) when (my daughter) was in first grade and that helped for awhile. Then they rezoned and it started all over again.”
The former teachers admitted that there are some things that they won’t miss about the old school, like the day the gas started leaking and the school was evacuated, the time they taught for four days without electricity and the time the water pipe broke and flooded the school.
“I won’t mind seeing those bathrooms destroyed,” said Dixie Conine, a retired kindergarten teacher said, remembering the flood.
But everyone mourned the loss of the heavily-treed playground, where students and neighborhood kids have played for three decades in the shade.
“We have taken significant care to take care of the trees,” Brogden said. “They will get a better playground next to the big beautiful trees. We’ve done a lot of planning to impact the lowest number of trees and made a nice walking area. It will look more like a park.”