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GOODBYE, CRAIN

By JJ VELASQUEZ
May 25, 2010 at 12:25 a.m.
Updated May 26, 2010 at 12:26 a.m.

052410/Crain Middle School Closing - Crain Middle School retired staff members Georgia Friggle, left, Helen McCutcheon, center, and Imelda Cunningham, right, greet one another at a reception celebrating the history and memories shared at the school. On June 3, Crain Middle School will cease to exist as the campus will be transformed into Crain Elementary. Georgia Friggle started at the campus in 1990 and left her post as art teacher in 2005. McCutcheon began in 1970 and retired in 2002 after teaching PE, health, English and reading. Cunningham started in 1987 teaching special needs children and and also handled the yearbook. She retired in 2004.

This summer, work will begin to transition the former middle school to an elementary school. The school will maintain the Crain name as Crain Elementary School and will house students from Juan Linn Magnet School. The Juan Linn Campus will be closed at mid-term when the refurbishing work at Crain is completed.

SOURCE: VISD.COM

On the last day of school next week, Bobbie Guinn plans on draping a black cloth with the words "Rest in Peace" across Crain Middle School's marquee.

About 30 former and current employees gathered Tuesday in the gymnasium and shared their favorite memories of the school, which will close its doors next week and become Crain Elementary.

Although both the campus and name will remain, several buildings will be bulldozed, including the gym in which the event was held.

So Tuesday's Crain Middle School celebration was the last real event in the gym, said Holly McCutcheon, an English teacher who spoke at the event.

It's the same gym in which Helen McCutcheon, Holly's mother, began her teaching career 40 years ago.

"All these years teaching, I had a lot of fun," Helen said. "I enjoyed teaching."

Holly said she hoped the event would evoke positive memories but did say she was sad that a part of Victoria's history would be lost after some buildings are demolished this summer.

"It's been part of my family for years," said Holly, whose aunt also taught at the school. "It's kind of sad. It's part of the family being torn apart."

She recounted one of her favorite memories, which happened while her mom, Helen, was still teaching at the school.

McCutcheon remembered a sixth-grader waiting in the breezeway in front of her classroom. She asked the student what he was doing. He said he was waiting for his teacher, that she would be there any minute.

"I think your teacher is my mother," she told the student.

"Are all the English teachers named McCutcheon?" he asked.

In 1954, Crain Middle School opened to students in grades seven through nine.

Ten years later, that was amended to six through eight.

William Henry and Frank Crain, the school's eponyms, were both attorneys. Frank Crain was also a school board member.

But now the school district has been rezoned for the 2010-11 school year, dividing it into east and west learning communities, said Diane Boyett, school district spokeswoman.

Seventh and sixth-graders at Crain will attend either Stroman, Howell or Patti Welder Middle School depending on where they are zoned, she said.

The new elementary school will keep the newer gym, library and cafeteria. Many other buildings are scheduled for demolition.

Guinn, who began teaching at Crain in 1991 and retired in 2003, said the faculty and staff she worked with at the school were close-knit - just like family.

She said the celebration brought up "a lot of really good memories with a lot of special people."

Though the school will "Rest in Peace," the Crain family will remain in the hearts of those who taught there.

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