COLUMBIA — Just off of Range Line Street sits a building, home to a small community of dedicated educators for more than 90 years.
Field Elementary hosted a “Farewell Field Fair” Saturday evening to celebrate the school’s history before all the staff and students move to Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary in January. Early childhood and gifted programs will move into the Field Elementary buildings.
At the school's entry was a table covered in yellow paper with “Field Elementary 1916-2009” written at the top. Signatures on the paper thanked teachers and staff for their hard work and provided fond memories of Field.
“When I think about Field, I think about its culture,” said principal Dan Boatman. He said that teachers at Field always have students' interests in mind.
“When dealing with a student, it’s everyone on board, whether it is their student or not,” he said.
Since its opening, the school has grown into a collection of more than 300 students and staff members.
“There has been a lot of different teachers and administration,” said Judy Arnett, who is currently in her 26th year teaching at Field.
Arnett said that Field is a wonderful school with a wonderful history. Being part of Field, she said, everyone gets to know the children and their families; they get to see and know the siblings that come through the school.
“It’s hard to take 26 years and choose just one memory,” Arnett said. “There are many that are near and dear to my heart. If I just chose one or a few, I know I would be leaving someone out.”
In the hallway, a small, glassed-in case held alumni photos dating back to 1990. As former students passed, they looked at the photos and smiled when they found themselves and their friends.
“The teamwork and camaraderie among everyone is like a family,” said Tara Collier, home-school communicator and a coordinator of the fair Saturday.
In preparation for the transfer to Alpha Hart Lewis, counselors at Field will be talking to the students in the coming weeks about the move.
“The counselors will answer questions, ease anxiety and remind them that they will have the same teachers and friends,” Boatman said.
The school also plans to bring the students to Alpha Hart Lewis during the last week before winter break. Boatman said they would walk the students through the building and give them a small orientation.
“The facility is amazing,” Boatman said about the new elementary school. “The team that selected the design had a good mindset for the learning environment.”
Boatman said the setting of the new facility is relaxed, with lots of trees and grass that will provide additional opportunities for outside learning.
“I look forward to the awesome facility,” Collier said. Although, she said, she will miss the small size and atmosphere of Field.