Rose Elementary School’s main office buzzed with activity as staff members rallied to host a field day of epic proportions to mark not only the end of the school year but also more than a century of history.
Students hustled in to have their school T-shirts signed by staff members Tuesday before heading outside to enjoy the last-day festivities.
Large, colorful bouncy houses and obstacle courses littered the field. Giggles and excited screams ripped through the air. Students lined up to try their hands at a dunk tank to soak instructional aide Julia Henry. Others snacked on snow cones.
The field day signified the end to 109 years of service. Rose Elementary shut its doors to close a yearlong discussion about declining enrollment and cutting costs.
In May, a five-year, $6 million bond levy was proposed to upgrade aging computers, replace textbooks and take care of deferred maintenance. The levy also would have prevented Rose from closing. Even so, 58 percent of the voters said “no.”
The closing of Rose will send students to other schools, mostly Eastwood, Fir Grove and Fullerton IV. Teachers and other staff members will be reassigned, filling vacancies created by retirements and resignations.
“It’s sad. We are closing a school that is over 100 years old. It was the first in Roseburg and is the heart of the community,” said Marcia Jaques, who has been the school’s office manager for 13 years. “It’s bittersweet saying goodbye to something so wonderful, but at the same time, we are going to move on to our new schools and want to make them wonderful too.”
She and Principal Jeff Plummer will be reassigned to Melrose Elementary, a familiar school to both.
Jaques attended Melrose as a child, and Plummer served as the principal for six years about a decade ago.
Despite the promise of relocation, the future for some educators is still a bit uncertain. Denise Brausam, a special education teacher at Rose for 15 years, hasn’t been assigned to another school yet, though she said she is confident she will be soon.
“It was disappointing the bond levy didn’t pass. That bond levy was for everyone in the school district, not just Rose Elementary,” Brausam said.
Plummer, who served as principal at Rose for just a year, shared the sentiment.
“I feel empty. I had a four-year plan for the school. When I came here, my wife asked me, ‘What are you going to do if the school closes?’ I said I didn’t know. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person, so I feel empty because I didn’t get to do what I hoped for,” Plummer said.
“I’m excited about being at Melrose, but I probably didn’t seem that enthused when I visited.”
Plummer said there has been some sadness from students. They have, however, already seen where they are going. The students visited their new schools and received T-shirts.
“These little guys are more resilient than most adults,” Plummer said.
This rang true for several students who expressed anxiety over changing schools but excitement for meeting new people.
“I am very sad and disappointed because I’m being split up from my friends. I love this school very much. I’ve been here since kindergarten,” said third-grader Lily Ranger, who will attend Eastwood.
“Eastwood is very nice. There is a lot of different buildings, but I will still miss this school.”
Fourth-grader April Willson said she is excited to learn but scared to meet new people. Many of her friends are going to different schools or moving onto middle school, she said.
Apart from bringing in activities for the students, the field day also enticed a few well-known guests to make an appearance, including former Principal Tim Wilson, who made the rounds to talk with familiar faces.
Wilson was Rose’s principal for six years before Plummer.
“Now in a superintendent job, I have to see things through a different lens. It’s a shame to see any school close. This school is so important to the community, and its closure is a strike to the south side,” Wilson said. “I was certainly hoping the greater community would see the value of the school.”
Rose’s parent-teacher organization paid for everything for the students’ final field day and had several members come out to volunteer.
Jackie Twyman, a parent and volunteer, was among the group.
“The school is going to be an empty lot until they decide what to do with it,” she said.
“I went to Winchester (Elementary) and can look back at it, still up and running. It’s sad my kids won’t be able to do that with their school.”
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s bittersweet saying goodbye to something so wonderful, but at the same time, we are going to move on to our new schools and want to make them wonderful too.
Marcia Jaques, Rose Elementary office manager