FCMS faithful say goodbye to school

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

As the school year ends next Friday, so does the education tradition at Florala City Middle School.
Its closing was announced in March and attributed to declining student numbers and the increasing operational costs. On Tuesday, students, faculty, alumni and guests attended a “farewell ceremony” to say goodbye to the structure that housed so many students throughout the years.
“This school opened on Sept. 11, 1911, with 300 students,” counselor Heather Bulger said. “And for 99 years, this grand structure has produced some outstanding students. The end of the 2009-2010 school year will mean the end of an era as 73 students leave here, but don’t let the number fool you.
“These have been some of the busiest students and the busiest years this school has seen,” she said. “It will be sad to see it end.”
Principal Rodney Drish called the closing “one of those things we can’t do anything about.”
“There is so much history inside this building,” he said. “So much tradition. There is a lot of love in this town. It’s evident in these students; these parents; this community. Everyone here has made this school great – from the students to the staff to the parents to the community. Our accomplishments – this school’s accomplishments – wouldn’t have been possible without each one of you.”
Of the day’s attendees, Pearl Smith, attended as a first grader in 1927.
“I loved my teacher,” she said. “My three girls went to school here, too. I just love this school.”

“I can’t remember exactly how long I was here – maybe 22 years,” Christine Wilson, former FCMS teacher said.. “What great years. What wonderful students. I can remember I had a yellow classroom. It was the best. Other teachers said why do you want that one? I said because it was bright and children do better when it’s bright.”

Furman Harrison and wife Wanda stand outside what was their first grade classroom.
Furman Harrison said it was inside that very room that he attended his first day of school in 1941 and got a whipping – all in the same day.
“That was a day,” Harrison said. “What a day.”

Sara Miller holds a photo of her first grade class from 1946. In the front row, her petticoat dress, penny loafers and dark hair make her easily recognizable in the photo of boys and a scattering of girls. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News