June 8, 2001
'Everybody had little tears,'
says teacher

By Susanna Laurenti

Friday was moving day at Boca Raton Elementary School - and many people were,
indeed, moved.

"Everybody had little tears," said Art Teacher Bill Buchanan.

Students and faculty said goodbye not only to each other on Friday, the last day of
school, but also to "Boca El" itself. The decades-old school will be demolished and
rebuilt over the next year.

"I feel really sad. I've been here since first grade, and I have so many memories
that I can't even say goodbye." said Katie Zimmerman, a third-grader. Katie posed
in front of Boca El's marquis Friday while her dad, Douglas Zimmerman, took one
last photo.

"We've had three kids go here, and it's such an awesome school. You feel like you
are part of a family. I hope they can recapture that feeling at the new school." he

Boca El, which opened in 1920 as a two-room schoolhouse and was rebuilt in the
late 1950's, is the city's oldest school.

In place of the existing, one-story cinderblock structure, a three-story,
state-of-the-art school has been designed by the West Palm Beach-based firm of
Song & Associates. Demolition is expected to begin June 8, said Principal Barbara

The only part of the current Boca El to be saved is the 64-year-old "gymatorium,"
which has been declared by the city to have historical significance.

The new school will be open in 2002. In the meantime, students and teachers will
move into portable classrooms on the campus of Calusa Elementary, 2051 Clint
Moore Road.

By Friday afternoon, most teachers were packed and ready to go.

Kelsey Mahoney, 10, said she would miss the well-worn school.

"I felt sad today because I really like the old school," she said.

"The school won't be here next year," added Kimberly Stuart, 9.

But Ziegler said that any nostalgia students and teachers might have felt Friday was
tempered with excitement about the new school.

"It's hard to say goodbye, but we're really thinking of it as a new beginning," she
said. "I don't feel like we're losing something."

Jenna Deschi, 9, whose father was a student at the existing Boca El, said she was
looking forward to attending classes in the new facility.

"It's going to have an elevator!" exclaimed the third-grader.

Meanwhile, Calusa Principal Ann Faraone said that school is almost ready for its
temporary students next fall.

"The portables are up, and the lights and water will be turned on soon," she said.

To prepare them for the transition, Boca El students took a field trip tp Calusa last
week. Most enjoyed the trip but were concerned about riding buses to school each
day, said Ziegler.

"Most of our students have never ridden a school bus before, because they live so
close. They were really worried they would miss [the bus]," she said.

Adjusting to Calusa was not a concern for Katie Zimmerman, because her family
this summer is moving to Boynton Beach, where she will attend a new school.

But before heading home Friday, she gestured toward the school she will always

"It's a shame they have to knock it down," Katie said. "It's a heart-feeling school."