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Highline students and teachers say goodbye to historic schools

Des Moines Elementary and Highline High School are closing after nearly a century of use.

DES MOINES, Wash. — Students and teachers in Highline Public Schools said goodbye to a pair of historic buildings where generations of families have grown up.

Tuesday was the last day of classes at Des Moines Elementary and Highline High School. Both schools are closing after nearly a century of use.

“I love those creaky old windows, the banging radiators,” said Paula Escher, who has taught at Des Moines Elementary for 17 years.

The school, which opened in the early 1920s, will be replaced with a gleaming new building on the other side of town.

“It has its own charm and quirks and personality,” said Kelly Meehan, who has taught in the same classroom for 25 years.

RELATED: Highline schools receive funding to reduce airport noise in classrooms

Meehan is retiring after 32 years of teaching. She’s even taught the children of some of her former (now adult) students.

“This has been an incredible community,” she said as her class prepared for summer break.

Highline High School, which was built in 1924, will be torn down and rebuilt over the next two years. Students will attend an interim school while construction is underway.

The replacement projects are among a district-wide series of improvements, made possible by a 2016 bond.

“We can't say goodbye, it’s just ‘see you in a while,’ and a whole new chapter,” Escher said while hugging students after the final bell.

Teachers and staff will start moving into the new Des Moines Elementary in August. The new high school should open in fall 2021.

RELATED: Hundreds of Washington schools to offer breakfast in class next year

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