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Beloved school closes for good, a community celebration will happen when people can gather again

COUTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM-BARLOW SCHOOL DISTRICT  - Teachers at West Gresham Elementary School bid farewell with a socially-distanced parade at the school, which is closing for good.

They didn't get the celebration they wanted, but the West Gresham Wildcats closed their beloved school forever with a parade.

Students and families drove by the school in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 10, to say goodbye to the old building. Teachers and staff lined up outside the school with bubbles and signs and bid so long to students and their families.

Many families decorated their cars, carried signs and all were waving, but sad to see the end of an era.

All the students got a complimentary yearbook, paid for by the West Gresham Parent Teacher Club.

Photos of the fifth graders, the last "graduating" class, adorned the windows. Kindergarten students got a socially-distanced promotion ceremony.

Students from West, which was nearly 100 years old, will attend other schools in the Gresham-Barlow School District. They might run into their old West teachers, who will be reassigned to other buildings.

The school had planned a festive closing party, but it had to be canceled due to restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus.

COUTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM-BARLOW SCHOOL DISTRICT  - West Gresham teachers and students will be assigned to other elementary schools in the Gresham-Barlow School District.

"There will still be an official closing ceremony once we can walk the building and be together again, whenever that might be," Lori Walter, principal of West Gresham said.

The community will be invited and the many community members who attended the school over the years will get one last look at the old building.

West Gresham, at 330 W. Powell Blvd., was the first elementary school in the city and has a rich history.

It was constructed in 1923 on property donated by Henry Metzger. The architect was Manson White of Portland and C.E. Stockton of Gresham was the contractor. Stockton's construction bid was $47,000. Plumbing and heating cost an additional $12,360.

When it opened, with 318 students in eight grades, the school had 10 classrooms and an auditorium.

Classrooms were added in 1926 and 1928 and more construction took place over the next decade.

In 1942, the cafeteria space was needed for classrooms and the children ate sack lunches in a supply room until a new lunch room was built.

West's enrollment slipped as 41 students were moved to Japanese internment camps during World War II. In 1943, the local population increased with shipyard industry workers. By 1948, four more classrooms were added, including a music room, for a total of 22 classrooms.

PMG PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - The district hopes to have a celebration at a later date when the community can safely gather.


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