Last day for Pearl Rhodes School

  • Students and faculty at Pearl Rhodes Elementary School celebrate the last day of school as the bell rings in the hallway. The school is closing and will send the students to other schools in the district.

  • Students and faculty at the Pearl Rhodes Elementary School blow bubbles as the students leave the building for the last time. Pearl Rhodes is closing, sending the students to other schools in the district. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Students and faculty at the Pearl Rhodes Elementary School in Leyden celebrate the last day of school by blowing bubbles as the students leave the building. The school is closing, sending the students to other schools in the district. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Pandemonium reigns as students, faculty and parents blow bubbles outside the Pearl Rhodes Elementary School on its last day Friday. The school is closing, sending its students to Bernardston Elementary School next year. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2019 11:05:11 PM
Modified: 6/14/2019 11:04:56 PM

LEYDEN — It was the last day of school Friday, and students’ summers began.

But even with the school’s-out excitement, there was a feeling of sadness among teachers, parents and children still at Pearl Rhodes a few minutes after the school day ended because this was the last day for Pearl Rhodes Elementary School.

“It’s very sad,” said Melissa Adamski, picking up her second-grade daughter, Kaylee, and her friend, Jakayla.

The school opened in 1951 as Leyden Center School and was renamed in 1992 in honor of longtime principal Pearl Estelle Rhodes, who had just retired. Its closure follows a lengthy debate over the Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s finances and future.

“She’s been going here for five years,” Adamski said of her daughter, who will be attending school in Gill next year.

Kaylee and Jakayla both called the last day “sad,” with Kaylee adding that it rained, too. Inside, lingering staff all repeated the same word: “sad.”

As the smallest school in the district, Pearl Rhodes’ potential closure was a topic of discussion for several years. School officials said in March that the closure will still not solve the district’s financial unsustainability, and there were talks of closing Warwick Community School, too.

Principal Bob Clancy, who is retiring at the end of June — his retirement coinciding with the closure — said it was the right thing to do for the district.

“It is very, very bittersweet,” Clancy said.

Clancy became principal of Pearl Rhodes in 2017, serving both Pearl Rhodes and Bernardston Elementary School. He was principal in Bernardston since 2011.

With both schools in the Pioneer Valley Regional School District, Clancy said the plan is to have former Pearl Rhodes students go to Bernardston.

“It’s bittersweet because (Pearl Rhodes) is an awesome building, an awesome school with 34 great kids and a great staff,” Clancy said. “But everybody knows it’s for the good of the PVRS district as a whole.”

As part of the transition, Clancy said Bernardston Elementary School has held a few events to make Pearl Rhodes’ students feel more comfortable in the new environment, including a “move-up day” when students came for “a field day and to meet their new friends.”

“The staff here are dedicated to the kids,” Clancy said. “They will be warmly welcomed into the Bernardston Elementary School.”

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.




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