Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Crowd bids tearful farewell to Colorado Springs elementary school

By Carol McGraw Published: May 10, 2013

Teachers, students, alumni and neighbors gathered Friday to say goodbye to an old friend - the 65-year-old Lincoln Elementary School, which will close May 20.

It was a two, or maybe even three hanky event. Some in the audience shed tears and reached for tissues as the grade schoolers sang: 'It's the memories that see us through. ' There was even a box of Kleenex placed strategically on the speaker's podium.

For budget reasons, the Colorado Springs District 11 school will close at the end of the school year along with Bates Elementary and Wasson High School. Lincoln had dwindled to 182 students.

Teachers will have jobs at other D-11 schools. Principal Shirley Stevens will head Penrose Elementary, and Lincoln students will attend Jackson and Fremont elementary schools.

On Friday the crowd shared I-remember-Lincoln stories in praise of this neighborhood school at 2727 N. Cascade, which meant so much to generations of families.

People hugged and paged through scrapbooks of PTA bulletins, recital programs, news clips and photos of yesteryear. There was a yellowing photo of Lincoln's first principal, Thomas Doherty, an iconic educator for whom Doherty High School is named.

Georgia Viggano Hutchinson, who taught at the school for 12 years, passed out shiny 2013 Lincoln head pennies to the crowd.

Chuck and Fredia Thompson attended Lincoln as sixth graders the year it opened in 1948. Their great granddaughter is in Lincoln's kindergarten.

'We were in Mrs. Myers class. We the only ones that eventually got married to each other, ' Fredia Thompson said. She still cherishes the ragged dresser scarf she stenciled in class.

Jan Doyle pinned one of her class photos to her lapel. She attended Lincoln in the 1950s, as did her husband Steve Doyle. Their daughter and two grandchildren were Lincoln students, too.

'I hate to see it close. There are so many fond memories. I feel emotional about it, ' she said.

When she attended, there were more than 400 students. Girls were required to wear dresses. There was a big auditorium where the library is today, and nearby Filmore Street was not yet paved. Most mothers didn't work and children played in the neighborhood streets surrounding the school.

Doyle can still recite the names of all her teachers, and particularly recalls how teacher Gertrude Hamilton put on a Tom Sawyer play.

Sandra Whitcomb, and her three brothers also attended the school. She was a student from 1956 to 1962, and vividly remembers a field trip she took in kindergarten. They walked several blocks to what is now Penrose Hospital. 'It was exciting because I was born there. '

When she drives by the school now, she says, 'seeing the kids play brings back so many memories of when I was a child. '

Martha Neville, who taught first grade for 32 years at Lincoln before retiring in 2002, recalled how they took the children on hay rides and made adobe bricks for a science lesson.

'It's sad that families have moved away and the school has to close. But you have to go with that. '

Present-day students have already collected memories.

Ron Carlos DeHerrera, a third grader, said, 'I have been here since kindergarten. I like this school. I know where everything is. '

Serenity Vigil, 9, was nostalgic. 'I like Miss Stevens because she made us learn, and I like the pizza, the pepperoni, and how we sanitize our hands before we eat. '

Gail Griffin, who has a grandchild at the school, thrust a bouquet of spring flowers into the arms of Maria Mendez, who teaches English as a Second Language and special education.

'I'm overwhelmed, ' Mendez said tearfully.

'I love you all, ' Griffin said. 'I hate to see the school end. '

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Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371 Twitter @mcgrawatgazette Facebook Carol McGraw

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