On Tuesday, some students at Southside Elementary School in Bastrop wore yellow t-shirts embossed with the words "65 years of educating the community, 1949-2014." The tees paid honor to the school's history and served as a bittersweet reminder that the school's doors will open to Morehouse Parish scholars for the last time today.
At a school board meeting in early April, Phase III of the board's balanced budget plan included closing Southside after the current school year ended. Students from the school will move to feeder schools based on their grade.
According to Acting principal Sharette Flynn, Pre-K through second grade students will attend H.V. Adams while those in third through fifth will start classes at Oak Hill.
When discussing the last days at Southside, Flynn reflected on how proud she was that parents and students stood up for their school.
"The only problem we had is that we were not allowed to voice our opinions," Flynn said. "The board did not allow our children and our parents to speak. We were not afforded the same opportunity as the other schools were to have their say. We felt that was very unfair and unfortunate, but we are moving on."
"I was so proud of them for coming and for showing up and doing what they did. I was so proud of them for the fact that they did put up an effort, and they did fight for their school," Flynn continued.
The school hosted a graduation for the fifth grade class on Tuesday and recognized them as the last graduating class the school would see.
Both Valedictorian Samuel Emery and Salutatorian Erykah Brown reflected on the school's closure in their speeches.
"During this school year at Southside," Emery's speech said, "we have learned a lot, and with all this valuable knowledge we can move forward in life. So to Southside's last class of 2014, 'In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure,' quoted by Bill Cosby."
Brown's speech stated, "I want you all to know I worked so hard all of these years by making good grades, intelligent decision making and giving my very best. Even though our school is closing, all my hard work paid off, and I will continue to work hard and do my best."
Both Brown and Southside's Student of the Year, Cherish Barnett, have attended the school since Pre-K.
"It's going to be sad, when I leave, to see it close," Barnett said.
Principal Flynn said that the closure is unfortunate, but that the students of Southside will have the continued support of the school's faculty and staff.
"We wish our students all the best," Flynn said, "We wish them academic success at their new schools. We will support them any way we can. We want them to focus on reading this summer, practicing those math facts and getting ready for a bright future next year because we want the best for them. "
A list of all fifth grade students who graduated Southside on Tuesday will appear in the Student News section of Thursday's paper.