Larrabee Elementary goes out with a splash before closure

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 14, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - Peals of laughter and shouts of glee rang out in the playground of Larrabee Elementary School Friday, June 13, during a block party to commemorate the school's final days.

There were bouncy houses and slides, a kid band playing Sublime and David Bowie, and even Principal Kate Baehr in a bee costume getting soaked in a dunk tank.

Despite the smiles and good times, it was a bittersweet event for some, as they got ready to say goodbye to the school for the last time. The school board voted to shutter the 94-year-old Larrabee because it's no longer adequate for an elementary school, sending students to Happy Valley and Lowell elementaries next year.

"The end of the year is always a time of transition, but this year especially it's all the harder," said Baehr, who is developing a homeschoolpartnership program that will be housed at Larrabee next fall.

"I think there's excitement and anticipation as well as sadness and loss. But in general, people at Larrabee are pretty happy people. They'll make the best of this. They're going to take what makes Larrabee great and bring it to their new schools," she said.

Friday wasn't goodbye, though. The official last day of classes is Tuesday, when the school will put on an end-of-year assembly and fifth-grade send-off.

"We still have two more days together," Baehr said. "We're going to make the most of it."

Fifth-graders Isabelle Douglas and Eliza Perry ate ice cream cones as they waited in line for their chance to dunk Baehr and other staff at the school. The girls felt privileged to be in the last class to graduate from the school, which includes students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

"I think it's a gift to be the last people to be here," Isabelle said.

Kelly Hatch was at the party with his twin third-graders, and he thought the event was a wonderful blowout for the school's last year. His girls already miss Larrabee, though.

"I've been here since kindergarten and I'm really going to miss it," Kelsie Hatch said. "Just everything about it, the school spirit and everything."

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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