The Christian school for children in preschool through eighth grade announced in January it is closing this year after serving the community for 65 years.
Friday was the last day for preschoolers, and they ended 2013-14 with Heiskell’s annual Salute to America program, followed by a picnic. Eighth-graders will graduate Thursday and the rest of the students will be dismissed the following day.
“We wanted to have a happy day and a day of remembrance,” Director Cyndie Heiskell said afterward. “We’ve all had our share of tears. We wanted today to be joyful.”
Her mother, Miriam, founded the school in 1949 for her 5-year-old son Andy, who was paralyzed by polio, according to the school’s website. It was started to give Andy Heiskell an opportunity to learn and play with other children after months of isolation. Today it has about 225 students.
Miriam Heiskell, 95, and her husband Jim, 96, were in attendance Friday, along with their son Jim. During the program, students sang patriotic songs such as “America the Beautiful” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” In between songs, students spoke about George Washington, Abra-ham Lincoln and other key figures in American history.
Cyndie Heiskell recognized Assistant Director Sara Margaret Patterson and preschool Principal Virginia Peebles for their service to the school. Later, she gave each of them an opportunity to speak.
“God bless each and every one of you all,” Peebles said, choking back tears.
Said Patterson, “As I listen to the program this morning, I know your older brothers and sisters remember singing these songs when they were younger.”
After the program Miriam Heiskell talked about the impact the school has had on the community.
“Our own children” were educated here, she said. “That has made all the difference in the world. That has been a commitment in our lives, to share our beliefs with other people.
“I haven’t missed a day that hasn’t been wonderful.”