When the Monroe County Board of Education built a new Gamaliel Elementary, it went to extra lengths to keep the students on site.
The new school was built on the same location as the old and the students witnessed the construction every day.
The old school had a special meaning to many of the teachers, staff, and even board of education members because they had all gone to school there.
"Gamaliel Elementary is a symbol of the community. Everything in the community revolves around the school, has since 1936,” said Todd Burgess, a board of education member.
For George Wilson, the superintendent of Monroe County Schools, Gamaliel School is home.
"I started first grade at Gamaliel in 1966 and I graduated from there in 1979,” said Superintendent Wilson.
While the ages of the students used to range from kindergarten to high school, Gamaliel is now an elementary school.
Superintendent Wilson says during its long history the entire community has always supported the basketball and football teams, the fundraisers, and PTA events.
"It's like a family. It's like home and everybody is close-knit,” said Keri Eaton, a teacher.
As the building aged, the Monroe County Board of Education decided to build a new school on the same spot as the old.
"We were very proud of our school, but it had outlived itself,” said Wilson.
The board decided to keep the students on site as they rebuilt the school.
The students were moved into half of the old building as the new one was constructed.
"They watched the construction everyday. They heard the dozers running, and the demolition going on, and saw the blocks coming up,” said Superintendent Wilson.
Superintendent Wilson says the district wanted the children to experience the construction, so they would have those memories of both the old school and the new.
"That sense of community is so powerful in the education of a child,” said Superintendent Wilson.
There are even a few symbols of the original building in the new one. There's a "1936" wall in the gym, which has been standing since the school has been in existence. The gym was built during a renovation in the 70s and the original floor is still being used.
"No matter what the building we're still the same people and it's still Gamaliel School,” said Lori Murphy, a teacher at the school.
Superintendent Wilson, the teachers, and the board members are all hoping by keeping Gamaliel's history alive, the students will never forget their home.
"They never lose where they came from and we think that's a good thing,” said Superintendent Wilson.
The Monroe County School District is currently rebuilding Joe Harrison Carter Elementary on the same spot where that school stood.
This time they weren't able to keep the students on site, so there's an open house the first Tuesday afternoon of every month, so the community can see the progress.
Superintendent Wilson says he hopes the school is completed by Christmas.
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