Taking turns on stage during their very last school assembly, the young students recited their lines in a skit about going to a new school with much feeling: fear, sadness, excitement and hope.
They know the subject well.
This is the final week of school at Davenport’s Lincoln Elementary School, also known as Lincoln Academy, which the district is closing to save more than $1 million. The last day of school is Thursday.
Along with happiness that summer break is almost here and for the prospect of new beginnings in the fall, Lincoln’s tight-knit group of teachers, staff, students and families is still struggling with saying good-bye.
“I feel cry-full,” Cynia Williams, 8, said Tuesday. “I went here since kindergarten. I liked it because this is the school I learned from.”
About 60 students will transfer in August to a new kindergarten-through-eighth-grade program at J.B. Young school, which will provide a non-traditional approach to teaching for the elementary-age students.
Those students will attend multi-age classrooms, getting lessons based on their skill levels rather than their grade or age.
They will move to more advanced material when they are ready, school officials have said.
The rest of Lincoln’s students will return to their traditional neighborhood schools scattered through the district.
The Davenport Community School District expects to continue maintaining the Lincoln building indefinitely, with plans to find a new community use for the property, which sits on a hill overlooking downtown Davenport.
In the meantime, Principal Mary McMeekin — who will lead Davenport’s Truman Elementary School next year — is trying to help Lincoln through the transition process.
On Tuesday, she stood on stage in the school’s old auditorium, telling the students at the start of their school day that this would be the “very last meeting” for Lincoln, which gathered for all-school assemblies twice a week throughout the year.
They listened to classical music. They celebrated academic accomplishments and perfect attendance. And they watched students act out a skit about going to a new school.
Sitting in the auditorium, Jennifer Timm, the mother of a special-needs student who spoke up at public meetings about Lincoln’s closing, said she initially was worried about finding another school to serve her child’s needs. Those fears are gone now, after learning more about the J.B. Young program.
Another parent, Penny Lankford, waited to watch her daughter, Courtney, 9, perform on stage. Her soon-to-be fourth-grader will attend the J.B. Young, too.
“It’s kind of scary with all the little kids and the big kids together,” she said about putting elementary and junior high students in the same building. “But so far, so good. I’m kind of looking forward to it.”
Upstairs in a long hallway, some classes have been turning their built-into-the-wall metal lockers into time capsules. Taping their photos and best schoolwork inside, teacher Sara Skinner’s third-grade students even painted their hands in bright reds, blues and yellows, leaving behind little handprints on the walls inside.
Dane Howard, 9, carried a memorial button he wears to school every day to his teacher, asking for help placing it into his time capsule. The pin shows a photo of his brother, Damien Howard Jr., 14, who was killed in a shooting Jan. 15.
Walking around the school, the principal said she doesn’t know where many of the students will end up, because their families move around a lot.
“This is a really sad moment for me,” McMeekin told the students. “I’m going to miss every single one of you. You’ll always be right here in my heart.”
During their skit, the students coached each other to “think the best will happen, and it probably will.”
One talked about meeting new friends “who are kind to us, play with us and stand up for us.” Another said they can look forward to new teachers who care about them, and of course, new playground equipment to explore.
“You may feel scared about going to a new school,” one child said. “But when we change how we think, we can change our fears into hope.”