For temporary Duncombe Elementary, this is the very last day of school

Next fall, students will return to brand new classrooms

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen A student becomes a blur as they walk past piles of packet up books and other classroom essentials Thursday afternoon during the last day of school. Duncombe Elementary School, which has been temporarily in the old Fair Oaks Middle School building for several years, will move into its new building over the summer.

Like they did on most days, the halls of Duncombe Elementary School echoed with the happy noise of students going about their day.

Learning, laughing, talking to each other and laughing more at something silly on the way to a different class or lunch.

Once the last student had left at the end of the day Thursday, their last laugh, giggle or “see you” marked the last time those joyful sounds will be heard in the building.

It will be mostly quiet as the building, the former Fair Oaks Middle School, stops being a school — again.

Fair Oaks became Duncombe when structural safety issues forced the abandonment of the old Duncombe building three years ago. It was subsequently torn down and has now been replaced by a brand new building on the same site. That brand new building will be moved into over the course of the summer and once again. Duncombe will be where except for the past three years, Duncombe has always been.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Susan Kane, Title I Reading teacher at Duncombe Elementary School, works on packing up her reading room Thursday afternoon during the last day of school for the year. Staff will be moving their classrooms into the new Duncombe over the course of the summer.

The last day was one of mixed feelings for the staff and students. They’ve become very attached to their temporary home.

Sara O’Leary, a fourth-grade paraeducator, will miss it.

“I love this old building,” she said. “There’s so much history. I loved every second here.”

She will not miss one thing that, with the exception of a few rooms, the building lacked: air conditioning.

The new building has central air.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen The Duncombe Elementary School fourth-graders get a long row of high fives Thursday afternoon as they march through lines of kindergarten through third-grade school mates shortly before the end of the last day of school.

“I can also walk to work,” she said.

Principal Pat Reding was also having a bittersweet range of feelings Thursday.

“I think of the hundreds of students who went through this school,” he said. “There’s been years and years of last days. Now there will be no more here.”

He noted that for some of the Duncombe students, there’s no memory of the old building.

“It’s been their home here for all of their educational lives,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Sara O’Leary, a Duncombe Elementary School fourt-grade paraeducator, signs Tyler Peterson’s shirt Thursday afternoon during a last day of school picnic on the grounds.

He’s looking forward to the new building, though.

“As sad as I might be, we’re super excited to be going to the new Duncombe as well.”

Susan Kane, a Title I reading teacher for kindergarten through fourth grade, had mixed emotions too.

“We’re excited but it’s bitter sweet too,” she said. “This was a great learning experience.”

She enjoyed her reading room in the Fair Oaks building, but she’s excited about her space in the new Duncombe.

“We will have a big huge reading room that we’re thrilled about,” she said.

She too, is looking forward to the air conditioning.

“I won’t complain about that,” she said.

Staff at Duncombe has been busy packing up their rooms for the move to the new Duncombe building. Staff has had much more time to organize and pack. The move out of the old building, due to safety concerns, had to be done quickly.

“It’s been a busy month,” she said.

Tyler Peterson, 10, who’s now finished fourth grade, is looking forward to his summer. He’s one of the students that won’t be going to the new building; he will continue his education at the Fort Dodge Middle School.

“I’ll miss it,” he said.

His summer plans include a lot of time outside and in the water.

“I’m going to the water park,” he said.

Before that, though, and before the halls fell silent Thursday, the younger students sent the fourth-grade class on its way with a salute.

The younger students formed two lines, the departing upper classmen got to walk through them and were generously gifted with enough high fives and handshakes to last them all the way to their first day of middle school in the fall.