Alumni Take Last Look At Hamilton Elementary - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Alumni Take Last Look At Hamilton Elementary

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The Moline School District is expanding Hamilton Elementary School in order to make room for students from Ericsson and Garfield elementary schools, which are set to close in the next few months. The decision was met with mixed emotions from district parents, employees and neighbors.

The new Hamilton will be nearly triple the size of the current, 62-year-old building, with room for art programs, English language courses, and a planned discovery lab and new media center.

Hamilton hosted an open house Tuesday, where many alumni say saying goodbye is bittersweet.

"I loved this school," alumna Amanda Grigsby said. "I always have."

Grigsby graduated from Hamilton in 2006. As an elementary student, she wanted to become a princess, but says that didn't happen. Rather, she is a Black Hawk College student with an undecided major.

She says returning to her old school felt strange.

"I felt like a kindergartner walking through here again," she said.

Hamilton principal Victoria Bohlman says, like Grigsby, many alumni wanted to come back one last time.

"Maybe have a picture taken by an old locker, or go visit a classroom, or maybe even visit a former teacher," Bohlman said. "So, we decided instead of just having kids coming in and drifting, as they return from college campuses, we would have an open house."

Parents, whose children went to Hamilton, also stopped by the event to get a look at yearbooks and scrapbooks up to 50 years old.

"It was such a wonderful, small, neighborhood school," one parent said. "Back then, the kids came home for lunch."

Grigsby came across an old photo of herself.

"It's unbelievable," she said. "I don't have any pictures of kindergarten. I have third grade and up, but this, that's me in kindergarten."

Even with seeing old photos, and greeting old friends, not everyone is happy about the big change. Some neighbors say they're still against the expansion.

"Not too many of them care about this open house," said Roxanne McDonald, who lives near Hamilton.

With a much larger school, she says traffic is a primary concern.

"It's going to be congested," she said. "People are going to be late for work. They're going to have to leave a lot earlier, get home a lot later."

However, decisions are final, and construction is underway. The school held a groundbreaking in early May. Back inside, it's one last look at the old Hamilton Elementary.

"Thanks for all the great memories, Hamilton," Grigsby said.

The school will reopen in fall 2015.

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