GRANITE CITY — Agnes Fryntzko was thrilled when she was hired as the first principal at Worthen Elementary School almost 50 years ago.
“I loved it and I was able to hire my teachers,” Fryntzko said. “I interviewed them and I hired my secretary. It was really something.”
Now, the 88-year-old Fryntzko is upset that Worthen, off Maryville Road, will be closing. The school’s final day of operation will be Thursday.
“I never thought this would end,” Fryntzko said.
As part of the new attendance center model the Granite City School District adopted at a school board meeting in January, Worthen is one of two schools that will close at the end of the school year. The other is Lake Elementary.
“It’s a nice school,” said Kaylie Moss, who graduated from Granite City High in 2015 and attended Worthen. “I don’t know why they would close it.”
On May 19, Fryntzko attended the Farewell Open House at Worthen, which included former and current staff members and students. Two other former principals — Nancy Marti and Dr. D.J. Kibort — also attended.
Principal Dottie Falter said there are mixed feelings among staff members and students about the school’s closing.
“Some of our staff have never been in another building,” Falter said. “They started their teaching career here and they’re still here, so there’s a little anticipation and they’re a little anxious. A lot of students tell me, ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave Worthen.’ That’s understandable.”
Falter has worked at Worthen since 2004. She was a reading teacher before becoming the school’s sixth principal in 2012, replacing Kibort.
“It’s hard to leave Worthen because it’s been home for a while,” said Falter, who will be the principal at Prather Elementary next year. “I came here as a reading teacher, then this is my fourth year as principal. It’s bittersweet because there are lots of relationships and lots of good things happening, which I’m sure will carry over until next year. It will just be in a different setting. But you feel like an era is coming to a close in moving into the new attendance centers and new things to come.”
Falter said she hopes the building won’t remain vacant.
“Hopefully, it’s going to be utilized for something,” the principal said. “We have a beautiful building. We’re centrally located and we’ve got all of this renovation taking place within the last five years. So it’s a very nice facility.”
Toby Jones, who wrapped up his freshman year at Granite City High School this year, attended Worthen. On May 19, he visited the school for the first time since he left there in 2012.
“I’m pretty upset because I had a lot of great memories here walking through these halls,” said Jones, Kibort’s nephew. “It’s a good environment for students to learn.”
Worthen Elementary was known as Parkview Elementary when it opened in September 1966. Parkview served students from kindergarten through sixth grade.
“I grew up in Granite City and went to elementary school in Maryville,” Falter said. “This was a long time ago. We had after-school intramural programs. I can remember traveling here after school to play basketball and Worthen had the best gym because of the high ceilings. All of the other buildings had low ceilings. When we came into the gym to play with the ceilings that were high and they seemed like so much bigger, it was pretty impressive. That’s what I remembered about when I was a kid coming here. It changed since I’ve been teaching here with the new renovations, new paint and new windows. It’s a nice place. We’ve been blessed with parents, students and staff and we were able to do a lot of good things.”
Fryntzko said the school impressed a lot of people when it opened.
“We ended up with having people coming from all over the state to see what we’re doing,” said Fryntzko, who was Worthen’s principal for 20 years before retiring in 1986.
On Aug. 9, 1994, Parkview Elementary was renamed Worthen Elementary after L. Monroe Worthen, who served on the school board for 34 years and was president on the board before passing away in May 1994.
Worthen students will be released at 11:50 a.m. for a half-day on Thursday.
“We’ve been doing this ABC countdown, which is the 26 letters of the alphabet,” Falter said. “Every day has been a different letter. Like A is autographs, so we had autograph time. So they know we’re getting closer to the end of the alphabet. That’s helping them track when the last day of school is. It’s been really good because they’re all excited.” - See more at: http://advantagenews.com/news/end-of-an-era/#sthash.geGX2uAB.dpuf