Former pupils take final tour of Hains Elementary

When Carol Flanders Fronek stands there now, the hallways at A. Dorothy Hains Elementary School don't seem nearly as intimidating as they did 40 years ago.

 

"I can remember walking around the corner and seeing the principal standing in the hallway just like this," Fronek said with her hand on her waist and her hip popped out.

On Sunday, Fronek walked through the courtyard where she played as a little girl, sat in the cafeteria where she remembers lunch costing 80 cents and peeked into the office where she used to fear the principal.

It was her last chance to reminisce with old classmates before it was too late.

Next month, the 51-year-old Hains Elementary on Windsor Spring Road will be demolished to prepare for the construction of a new school to be built in its place. Before the school is gone forever, Principal Carol Murrah opened the doors on Sunday afternoon for anyone who wanted to say goodbye.

"You hate to see an old building go," said Murrah, who will also be retiring as the school closes its doors. "It holds memories, but it holds limitations too."

The school is a one-story building with features that seem to have frozen in time as decades passed them by.

Fronek swears the linoleum floors are the same ones she walked on as a first-grader in 1968.

Just past the front doors, there is a framed poster listing all the names of the members in the school's National Parent Teacher Association of 1961.

The walls are a retro baby blue and canary yellow, and the ceiling has the exposed piping that Murrah said "you just don't see in schools anymore."

Fronek came to say goodbye to her school with lifelong friend, JoAnne Kitchens. The two made the 10-minute walk together from their adjacent houses on Abelia Drive to Hains Elementary every day.

Back then, the girls were forbidden to wear anything but dresses and feared getting whacked with a ruler at the slightest slip-up.

"We did not want to get in trouble," Kitchens said. "At lunch, the teacher would make you eat everything on your tray, and if you didn't eat it, you'd stick it in your milk carton to try and hide it."

Some things in the halls haven't changed over the years, such as the framed painting of the school's namesake across from the main office.

While the new construction is taking place over the next 18 to 24 months, Murrah said students will attend school at a temporary location on Bungalow Road.

The new facility at the site on Windsor Spring Road will be more technologically advanced with more resources for its students, Murrah said.

It will be a change from the school that Carolyn Weeks said she used to walk her five children to every morning in the '70s, but one that is long overdue.

"There's a lot of memories built into here, but there's something to be said for change, too."

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