Saying goodbye

As we begin to say goodbye to Puyallup High School, there is something else I will be needing to say goodbye to: my elementary school.

The summer before kindergarten I moved to a house right next to Sunrise Elementary School. I remember being so excited to finally go to a “big kid” school, my excitement growing each time I drove by and looked at the dark brick building.

I remember Sunrise being very old. As it was built in the 70s, the interior is made up of brightly-colored walls, linoleum floors and a distinct musty smell. But in the seven years I attended the school, it became my home away from home. Even now, every time I drive by Sunrise, I get nothing but a wave of nostalgia. The sculpture we made in third grade is still on display, the little hideaway where we released butterflies in second, the four square court where I spent countless hours playing — it’s all still there.

But soon it won’t be.

In 2015, the Puyallup School District was able to pass a bond that would fund the remodeling and reconstruction of five elementary schools in order to account for the steadily rising enrollment numbers. Sunrise is one of these schools.

The field I hit my first home run on, practiced for soccer tryouts on, spent hours running, all gone in what feels like so little time.

— McKenna Zacher

When I first heard the news, I was ecstatic. Many of the memories I have about Sunrise include times where the building was falling apart — a ceiling tile falling suddenly and almost striking my teacher in the middle of a lesson the most prominent. I was overjoyed that the attendees would have the chance to experience a fresh school something I did not.

As I’ve reached the end of my time in the Puyallup School District, this has become increasingly bittersweet. Each time I drive by Sunrise, it feels like the new school is coming along at lightning-speed, an almost too on the nose metaphor for how quickly I feel my “childhood” is ending. The new school is massive, taking up the whole space where the field was. The field I hit my first home run on, practiced for soccer tryouts on, spent hours running, all gone in what feels like so little time. While I marvel at the beauty of the new Sunrise, a part of me yearns for the familiarity of “the field.”

It will not be long until the old building is demolished, and its timing seems too telling. The fear of the future is all too present in my mind recently, mixed with excitement for what is ahead. While I have dreamed of being able to return to the familiarity of my elementary school and all the childhood memories that come with it, I know that the idea of the school I have is not the reality. In reality, Sunrise is old, dusty and desperately awaiting its final hour. It’s ready to move on. And as I reach my final hour in the K-12 system, so am I.