Riverside Elementary School Thursday celebrated not only the end of the school year, but also the end of its being an elementary school. Next year, it becomes a districtwide early learning center for preschool, transitional kindergarten, and kindergarten.
"We're trying to make it a day of celebration, a day to celebrate all of the good memories we've had with the students and the staff here," Ryan Flaherty, administrative assistant, said. "We're trying to make it a real fun and real exciting day."
The school kindergarten through fourth-grade students enjoyed activities and games throughout the day, playing in the halls, in class and in the gym.
-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Magician Larry Dunbar autographs playing cards after performing for the students of Riverside Elementary School Thursday.
"They get to learn to work together and have some fun," Flaherty said. "They get to share some positive memories with their friends."
The school's end-of-year Field Day activities were made special with the appearance of Tracy Bachman, a motorbike racer.
"We kind of added that this year as a special celebration since Riverside is being repurposed next year," Kimberly Bodholdt, counselor, said. "We wanted to do something extra special for the kids to make today a good day. "
Bachman gave a demonstration on the playground pavement, where he did wheelies and other tricks for the kids, according to Bodholdt. Several students got to sit on the motorbike before he did stunts, while some staff members got to ride with him.
"They were pretty surprised, him doing wheelies with them on the back," she said.
The students also enjoyed a performance from magician Larry Dunbar.
"The kids were excited, and several of them got his autograph afterward and thought that was neat as well," Bodholdt said.
Fourth-grade teacher Rebecca Gascho said the day was successful, despite the gray sky and light rain.
"We had a guy do some dirtbike tricks and the kids were amazed with that, and then we had a magician, which he had some tricks that really scared and excited some of the kids, so they loved that," she said. "Even with the crummy weather, everything seems to be going as planned."
Gascho has been at Riverside for five years. She is one of several teachers who will be assigned to other schools in the district. Next year, she will teach fifth-grade math at Fair Oaks Middle School.
"I am so excited. This is my dream job," Gascho said. "I'll be teaching a lot of my students that I have now. I've met the staff there, and they are wonderful. I'm so excited to be joining Fair Oaks and be part of a great team."
Gascho said Riverside's becoming an early learning center is bittersweet.
"It's sad that a lot of students will have to be leaving their friends and joining other schools, but I wish the kindergarten, ELC and TK the best of luck," she said. "I can't wait to come back and visit, and see what the building looks like next year."
Bodholdt said the students were responding well to the change.
"I haven't heard any kids mention anything about it being the end of the school at Riverside," she said. "They have a lot of good memories of being here, and they always look forward to summer. The end of the year provides them with lots of fun things."
The change will be more difficult for the faculty, most of whom will transfer to other district schools or realign following the change.
"The repurposing of the building will be a good thing for young children in the preschools, the TKs and the kindergarten that will be here next year," Bodholt said. "Everybody will move to different buildings, so we won't all be together as a staff again, but we will also be working in the district and doing good things for kids in other places."