Round Hills community bids farewell as school doors close

They sang. They wiped tears with tissues. They waved towels, believing the magic and results of a good and safe education can continue wherever they are taught in the Williamsport Area School District.

Scores of kindergartners through fifth graders, their teachers, administrators and parents gathered at the bus drop-off and pickup outside Round Hills Elementary School Friday morning, sitting down with their legs folded, to bid a final farewell to the school that closes June 5.

Along with Round Hills, Sheridan Elementary also is closing as the district prepares for a change in landscape for the next school term. It will transition to a kindergarten to third-grade, fourth- to sixth-grade, seventh- and eighth-grade, and nine to 12 configuration, according to district Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Kelley.

The touching and emotionally uplifting ceremony started a fun-filled activity day and was the final of a series of events aimed to celebrate the school, its students, staff and history since the first bricks were laid in 1959 and renovations completed in the 1980s.

A “swan song” ceremony included remarks by Principal Cindy Schuyler, Kelley and Parent Teacher Organization President Becky Harding. The latter recalled being that “momma” the kids could depend on when they broke their arms and were in the school nurse’s office or just needed a squeeze.

Schuyler asked the children to “keep on remembering,” telling them that’s what Peter Pan told his friends in the Disney movie.

“I’ll remember the round-ups, recesses, special teacher, staff and parents, lunch, assemblies, field trips and hugs,” she said.

Harding said she considered the school to be her “home away from home.”

So, too, did Agnes Steppe, who taught kindergarten 23 years and other classes in the district before that.

“It’s always been a family,” she said, having retired in 2006. Whenever students are struggling, the teachers are always there as are the aides, she said. “Everybody – from the parents working with kids, to the teachers – it’s been a close-knit community and top-notch education.”

They also retired Round Hills Ram, the mascot, by putting a top hat worn by Mr. Millionaire on it, and donated a book titled, “Oh, the Places You Can Go,” to the James V. Brown Library.