Rawlins school demolition stirs memories

By Zachary Laux

Rawlins Times

Published: Friday, April 13 2012 5:05 p.m. MDT

In this April 10, 2012 photo, what remains of Pershing Elementary School lies barricaded by fences and wrapped in bright "Danger" tape as demolition crews continue their work on the south side of Rawlins, Wyo.

The Rawlins Daily Times, Garrett Fevinger, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

RAWLINS, Wyo. — Construction trucks rolled in this week to demolish Pershing Elementary School and, for some, the many memories the building holds.

"It's like your memories being crushed, literally," said longtime Rawlins resident Tina Baker.

Baker was born and raised in Rawlins and now is raising her own family on the south side where the rubble that used to be Pershing Elementary School sits. Many of Baker's family members have attended Pershing, including her son and daughter, she said.

The Pershing Elementary School building was demolished because a new elementary school was opened, replacing Mountain View and Pershing.

Baker can remember the feeling of attending the elementary school and how special she felt in kindergarten, she said. The miniature desks, sinks and toilets in the school made specifically for young children were fascinating to Baker, she said.

Baker also remembers the events Pershing used to host that were unique to the school, she said. Many of the students who attended Pershing were Hispanic, and the school would host special events for holidays like Cinco de Mayo and other events special to the students, she said.

"It's just a real warm memory," she said.

Baker could see and hear the building being demolished, which created a "weird" experience for her, she said.

"I felt so connected to it that it is almost like it is crushing me," she said

Baker's daughter, LeAnna Baker, made it through Pershing before the building was torn down, but her son was taken out of Pershing half way through his fourth-grade year.

Dakota lost memories and friends from the destruction, he said.

"Pershing was my school growing up, and I didn't want it to get torn down because I don't really like the new school," Dakota Baker said.

It is hard for Dakota to reconnect with his old friends from Pershing because of the number of students and all his friends go to recesses at different times, he said.

Dakota was at Pershing Tuesday to collect a brick in remembrance of his time and education in the building, he said.

Demolishing the building is a waste of a good building and landfill space, said Mary Jo Lund.

Lund has tried to ignore the situation with the school because there is little anyone can do about it, she said.

"It just raises your blood pressure," she said.

Lund does not know what they plan to do with the area but hopes they keep it well kept, she said. Baker hopes to see a second Boys and Girls Clubs location, or something else for children on the south side, she said.

Children on the south side sometimes have too much free time on their hands and tend to get in trouble, Baker said.

"Sometimes they don't have any activity, and not every family can afford to put their kids in structured programs," Baker said.

Using the space to make something for children would be fitting, she said.

Information from: Rawlins (Wyo.) Daily Times, http://www.rawlinstimes.com

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