Demolition Of Bay-Waveland Schools Will Soon Begin - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Demolition Of Bay-Waveland Schools Will Soon Begin

"It's really so sad, but in some ways, it almost seems unreal," said Dr. Frances Weiler, Principal of North Bay Elementary in Bay St. Louis.

"All the times we use this outside courtyard with children, and then I hear the children in the background, and it's almost like it's some kind of surreal way, they're still here," Weiler said as she walked through the battered campus.

Katrina's debris and overgrown weeds have turned Frances Weiler's school into a ghost town. It's hard to imagine, the campus was once a place where teachers changed children's lives.

"Wow, I hadn't actually walked into the class, but I know my file cabinet is over there under that tree," said Cathy Pitalo.

Pitalo has taught at North Bay Elementary for five years.  Her roots at the school run deep.

"This isn't the same room that I remember, you know.  I mean, it's just not the same," Pitalo said.

Pitalo's grandfather was president of the school board when North Bay was built in 1960.

"I went to school here while my mom was a teacher here," Pitalo said. "Now, I'm teaching here and I have children that attend North Bay. To me that's pretty deep. That's a lot of history in this school and it's sad to think that another generation of our family won't get to see it."

Pitalo's beloved school will start coming down next month. But she doesn't want to be here, when the wrecking ball arrives.

"It'll be hard," Pitalo said. "But I think once it's gone and cleaned out, and we realize we can get a fresh start, it'll be easier. But right now I'm like, why tear it down?"

Ready or not, the school is about to begin a new chapter. And the principal is ready to see the eerie reminders of Katrina's rage disappear.

"To those who's hearts are here, to know that this building may be gone, that there will be another building to replace it, to take its place, where more memories will be made," said Dr. Weiler.

"New will be better I suppose," Pitalo said. "I got a lot more years to teach. So I guess I can finish out in a new fancy school, and that will be nice."

For now, North Bay students are going to classes in trailers, located next to their former school. Meanwhile, teachers are salvaging bricks from the old school, and selling them to anyone who wants a memento. The PTA will decide how to spend that money.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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