For more than eight decades, what is now Colonial Elementary School educated the students of Botetourt County.
But earlier this month, the doors closed for the last time. First opened during the presidency of FDR in 1939, the single-level brick school continuously operated. Now, students will learn 2 + 2 + = 4 and the joys of punctuation at a state-of-the-art school nearby.
School officials and members of the Botetourt County’s Sheriff’s performed a flag retiring ceremony during a closing celebration amidst an afternoon snowfall on January 8.
Vicki Thomas, a third grade teacher, accepted the neatly folded flag with a charge to safeguard it until it could fly at the ‘New Colonial’ later this month. Thomas began her teaching career at Colonial 30 years ago and has taught there ever since.
At 2:25 p.m., first responders from the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office, Fire/Rescue, and EMS escorted the student-filled buses out of the parking lot for the “Final Dismissal” and a siren-filled farewell.
A Colonial High School alum from the Class of 1956 came and took a photo in front of the original entrance. He was joined by two family members, both former and current Colonial students; a fitting tribute to how this building and its educators have impacted Blue Ridge and Botetourt County residents for decades and across generations, the staff said.
A few days later, Principal Tammy Riggs wrote, “Just now leaving for the day and exhausted does not begin to describe how I feel. But at the same time I’m emotional and so proud of us. I am so fortunate to work with some of the most amazing educators I’ve ever met.”
Moving mid-year was no small task, yet the staff has embraced it with everything they have. They are true examples of grit, determination, patience, positivity. That left her stating, she’s “like one proud mama.”
Riggs wrote to students that the staff is “working hard for YOU. They want everything perfect for YOU. They want only the best for YOU.”
“So, if you don’t mind, just say a little prayer for our staff as we keep working hard to be ready to see our awesome kiddos come through our doors and for the opportunity to show our new learning environment to our parents as well. I’m just so proud of the people I get to lead,” she concluded in a Facebook message.