In keeping with theme “Aloha to Cherrelyn Elementary School,” visitors were greeted with leis, bright-colored attire and decorations on May 18 at a farewell gathering for the Englewood school …
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In keeping with theme “Aloha to Cherrelyn Elementary School,” visitors were greeted with leis, bright-colored attire and decorations on May 18 at a farewell gathering for the Englewood school building dating to the early 1960s, which will be demolished.
The demolition is needed to make room for construction of the new Cherrelyn Elementary School on the same site at 4500 S. Lincoln St.
This year there were 216 students in kindergarten through sixth-grade at Cherrelyn. Next year the students will attend classes at the existing Clayton Elementary School, then will return to classes at the new Cherrelyn building in August 2019.
At the “Aloha” gathering, the Cherrelyn halls were crowed with alumni, students, staff and school officials attending an event that included the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new building.
Attendees moved through the halls and could visit classrooms for about the first hour of the “Aloha” event. Comments often heard from alumni included “I went to class in this room,” and “The halls and rooms are just as I remember.”
Longtime Englewood resident Greg Bennett was among the alumni attending the farewell activities. He said he was a student at Cherrelyn soon after it was built.
“There have been a few changes, like the office is in a different place,” he said. “But a lot is still the same. The halls are just as I remember and that is the same clock that was on the wall when I was a student.”
He said the demolition of the school to provide space to build a new Cherrelyn Elementary School is a good thing for the city, but it is also sad to see the building torn down.
“I do understand they will use some of the bricks from this building to construct the new school,” he said. “I also heard they will keep the clock.”
Many classrooms were open, including the one called the memorabilia room where there were pictures, photo albums and year books that visitors could check out.
Amy Martinez, a member of the Englewood City Council, is a Cherrelyn alumnus who went to the school in the mid-1980s. She stopped by the memorabilia room to look over items from the years she was there.
“I have good memories of Cherrelyn and growing up in Englewood,” she said. “It is sort of sad the building has to be torn down but it is exciting that a new Cherrelyn will be built here. It is great that so many people came to this event. I have seen some people I haven't seen in a while.”
About 5 p.m., a standing-room-only crowd filled the gymnasium and spilled out into the hall for the “Aloha” ceremony. The Cherrelyn choir sang the farewell song from the “Sound of Music” and received appreciative applause. Several students and former students spoke, sharing their thoughts and feelings about demolition of the current building and the expectations for the new school.
As he watched the ceremony, second-grader Jason Wright said all the excitement of the “Aloha” event was a lot of fun.
“Tonight is fun and I think it is cool that we will be going to a new school,” the 8-year-old said. “I think things will be different in the new school and I am sure it will be nice to be in a brand-new classroom in a brand-new building.”
When the activities in the gym ended the event moved outside, where adults including district officials, faculty members and parents each shared the handle of a shovel with a student for the official groundbreaking before heading back into the school for a barbecue supper.
Cherrelyn Principal Eva Paslewicz was one of those taking part in the groundbreaking.
“This has been an exciting day for me, for the staff and for our school. The students have been excited all day tonight and it is great to see so many people here this evening for the farewell celebration,” she said after the groundbreaking. “It was fun to talk to so many who went to school here. They were so excited to visit their classrooms and enjoy their old school. It is so powerful to see so many alumni and others from Englewood. I think that says a lot about the Cherrelyn community.”
Paslewicz is retiring at the end of this school year.
“I had thought about staying on so I could be principal at the new school,” she said. “But I decided now was the right time to retire. Rebecca Orsund will be the new principal when the next school year starts. I will be enjoying retirement and I have a lot of plans, including traveling to places I have always wanted to see, like Africa and Vietnam.”
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