I attended Condit Elementary School from 1998-2004. My sisters attended from 2002-2008. At the start of each school year, my mother would sign up to volunteer wherever help was needed — from reading aloud in our classrooms, to making quilts for fundraisers, to her most noteworthy job, running the AR Store (AR points are awarded for reading comprehension tests, which then can be used to buy goodies that my mom supplied). Year after year, my family would invest its heart and soul into Condit, fostering friendships with the families and teachers that filled the hallways.
Condit Elementary has been around since 1927, but the start of the 2016-2017 school year will mark a new era for the school: the old building shall be demolished and the faculty will move into a brand new facility built onsite. Because Condit means so much to so many families, a “final walk-through” was held this afternoon, as the school that everyone remembers will be torn down next week.
Claire and Margaret are both home from college, so all five of us headed over to say one final goodbye. We expected to only linger a few minutes or so, walking through and maybe seeing a few people from our neighborhood. Upon arrival, we encountered my former Girl Scout Troop Leader and her family, as well as my kindergarten teacher…and thus began the trip down memory lane.
My mom was the first one to get emotional. I was shocked at how nonchalant I was acting — because I get VERY emotional over pretty much everything — but I suppose I was unsuspecting to the gravity of the situation. Plus, Margaret brought to light the fact that my mom spent ten years volunteering there…that elicits an appropriately large amount of nostalgia.
Leaving the courtyard, we walked into the building, and I was immediately take aback. I am fairly positive I hadn’t been inside Condit since my sisters left eight years ago, yet it was as though no time had passed at all. Everything felt so familiar and comfortable: random signs, the smells, classrooms…they all appeared exactly the same. And yet everything seemed so much smaller in scope. When you’re a kid, your school is the biggest institution you’re a part of. In size, but mostly in mindset. There are rules, authority figures and societal guidelines of which you’re expected to obey. So when we sheepishly felt rebellious signing a brick (as all were invited to do because it would soon be turned to rubble), it was because all those “good kid” instincts came rushing back.But we aren’t kids anymore. We’ve grown-up, gone our separate ways and become actual, full-fledged people. Passing through the hallways and classrooms where this foundation was formed was overwhelming to say the least. But as I fought back tears, we encountered more friends and teachers. And all of us stood around and talked for half an hour at least about the past, laughing at the fun times and reminiscing on all that’s come to pass since. It was very humbling to behold this group of mothers who did so much for not just their children but also for several generations after. Although these families have long since moved on from Condit, the effects of their hard work and dedication has caused ripple effects that we all got to witness today.
A whopping two hours later, we said one last goodbye to the Condit we grew up in. Claire and Margaret and I chuckled about the playground dynamics, and with that final farewell, we left the building. As my Mom turned away, she said, “You know, I’m not sad anymore.” And I was in agreement. Yes, it is sad that we won’t have the physical layout of our grade school anymore. But this new building is going to be such a blessing to the teachers and children to come. Our memories are still fresh in our minds, and by having such a lovely afternoon with these dear, old friends, we’ve fostered those relationships.
My whole life has been spent judging time based on school. Now that I work full time, I’ve been rather lost in my perception of time. The one-year anniversary of my graduation was just a few weeks ago, and it’s been very disconcerting to me, knowing that a year has gone by without me really realizing it. Today was the tender answer to my nervous question of “Is it all flying by too quickly?” Soaking in the memories of so long ago, I became aware that no, it’s not been time wasted. Growing older, living life, making memories like these with my family, that is time well spent.