Nikiski Elementary School will see its final days later this month, but area residents are determined to send the school out in style.
A closing ceremony is slated for Saturday to celebrate the history of the school, which will close at the end of the school year, and to look forward to the future, which heralds the consolidation of Nikiski and North Star elementary schools.
The ceremony begins at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Nikiski Elementary School gym, where a handful of speakers will recall the school's history and musical selections will entertain audience members.
Attendees also will have an opportunity to "walk down memory lane" through a collection of pictures and memorabilia dating back to the school's opening, said Sharon Traughber, a member of the ceremony planning committee and former secretary at the school.
"It's a time for families and other people to take a look at the history of the school and an opportunity to see old friends," she said.
Following the official ceremony agenda, there will be a free community barbecue at the back of the school from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Nikiski Elementary School, which opened in 1963, is closing due to an effort to consolidate resources in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Enrollment in area schools has been declining steadily over the past several years, and projections don't indicate a turnaround.
Both Nikiski and North Star elementary schools are built to hold about 500 children. The combined projected enrollment for next year is 378.
The school now will be given back to the borough, which owns most district school buildings and leases them to the school district. The future plans for the building remain under debate.
While the consolidation has been somewhat controversial, Traughber said the closing ceremony is meant to be a positive event for employees, students and community members.
"The goal is to honor the school for all the years it has been in the community and what it has meant to the community," she said.
"It's been a cornerstone for many years."
She invited all students, alumni, past and present employees, parents and community members to attend the ceremony.
"We really want it to be a positive ending for the school year and for the building being used as a school."
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