Biloxi School Year Ends; Expansions About To Begin

Megan Gill stood at the fence outside Gorenflo Elementary School and took a picture of the 78 year old campus. "I want to remember it forever," the sixth grader said.

Gill was part of the last class to ever graduate from this particular Gorenflo campus. You see, the school built in 1924 is about to be demolished.

So on the final day of class, students worked on computers, and watched videos. Many of their teachers boxed up supplies. They have until Monday to prepare for the move to a new campus. "It's pretty hectic around here," fourth grade teacher Sherry Stauter said. "It's very emotional."

Just ask Cristi Hilton. She shed some tears in the days leading up to Gorenflo's closing. The second grade teacher thinks of Gorenflo as "a family. And we're still going to keep the family atmosphere," she said, even though the elementary school is moving east, into the Howard II building.

According to Biloxi school superintendent Dr. Larry Drawdy, "We're having to pick up entire schools and move schools." Dr. Drawdy canceled summer vacation for his administrative staff so it could concentrate on moving boxes, students, and teachers to temporary schools. "They've been super cooperative with us," the superintendent said. "The main reason is they can see a light at the end of the tunnel."

The light is the new Gorenflo school that will open in December 2003. "We have a great school now," Stauter said. "We're looking forward to having a new school in a couple of years."  So are Nichols students.  Almost $19 million in bond money is being spent to rebuild the two elementary schools.

When school starts again the day after Labor Day, Gorenflo will be in the Howard II building, high school students will be in a new campus, the old high school will become a middle school, and Michel Middle School will be a seventh grade facility. When you add it all up, seven Biloxi schools will be moved this summer to different facilities.