School: Colby Upper El (Demolition - 1987)

Contact: Robert Lipprandt 

Surnames: Bender, Braithwaite, Erickson, Hass, Hull, Johnson, Kilty, Newman, Treutel

----Source: The Tribune - Phonograph (Abbotsford, WI) 6/03/2015

First published in the Tribune - Phonograph, Wednesday, June 3, 1987

Colby students, staff give fond farewell to Upper El

“Climbing up three flights of stairs.”

“The squeaky chains of the playground swings.”

“The way the windows shook when the trains went by.”

“The time Mr. Johnson had to stand on the heater to get the window open.”

These and other memories were shared during an impromptu “Farewell to Upper El” session in the school’s music room on the last day of school Tuesday.

Students and teachers were not saying goodbye to the 80 year old structure just for the summer, but for good.

The building will be torn down this summer. The city has purchased the land on Broadway and will raze the building to make room for a new fire hall to be built with the help from a federal grant. The lower Elementary School will also be abandoned, and all elementary students will hereafter attend the brand new school nearing completion at Fourth and Dolf Streets near the high school.

The farewell session was organized by Francis Braithwaite and his students, each of whom interviews a staff member and real excerpts of the interview to the students and staff gathered in the music room. Most of those interviewed had mixed emotions about the destruction of the school. They were happy to go to a new, more efficient facility, but were sad that a building with so much history and personal memories embedded in it was going to be destroyed.

Students were also asked to write down memories of the school. Some examples:

Clayton Erickson: “Coming back from vacation, the wooden floors would shine because they were waxed.”

Kandace Hass: I like the way the floors make sounds.”

Chad Bender: “I remember when the furnace was running.”

Beth Haas: “My special memory of this school was when the chalkboards were really clean.”

Jenny Kilty: “I will always remember waiting in the lunch line and listening to the windows rattle in the wind.”

Clint Hull: “How the downstairs bubbler could run without anyone holding it.”

Jessica Newman: “The way the floors smelled and looked after gramps mopped.”

Jason Treutel: “For me, the most memorable thing about the school was the dungeon and it mysterious appearance. I’ll miss this place.”

Braithwaite led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance to open the program, which he said marked the end of an era and the beginning of another. After students told about their interview and shared memories, he read letters from two former teachers. They spoke of the unpredictable furnace, counting cars on the train as they went past, celebrating the bicentennial and other activities.



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