ELKVIEW, W.Va. — Students from Clendenin Elementary receiving a memorable send-off on their last day of school.

Upon letting out of their temporary portable buildings on the property of Bridge Elementary in Elkview for the very last time Thursday afternoon, the students were bid adieu by teachers and staff with bells, noise makers and music as they will be making their way to the brand new Clendenin Elementary School this fall.

Clendenin Elementary staff and students have been attending school in the portable units for 8 years now following the devastating 2016 flood that destroyed their former school building.

Clendenin Elementary Principal Angel Gurski told MetroNews that it’s a surreal moment as they prepare to make the transition.

“We’re extremely excited about it, but a little bit of it is sad, because we’ve been here and we’ve bonded and done so well here and it’s, you know sad to leave this behind but it’s still super exciting to move on to bigger and better things,” Gurski said.

Gurski said she thinks right now at least, the process of accepting and preparing to make the big move to the new school has become a reality for the administration and teachers more than it has the students.

After facing some delays with construction of the building earlier on, she said she thinks the students grew tired of getting their hopes up for a while.

“They’ve seen us pack and it’s almost like they know, but we’ve had a scare before where they’ve said we would get into the school but then something happened, so I think the students are kind of like we’ll see it when we get there,” Gurski said.

The overall construction process of the new building took a total of about four years to complete, which would have been sooner had it not been for the delays.

However, now the time has come for the students to get to experience the reality of having the brand new school first hand this fall.

Fourth grader Kynli Clendenin will be starting the fifth grade at the new school. She said although she’s a little nervous to make such a major change, she’s ready.

“I think it’s going to be really cool, it’s a new experience and there’s still going to be like a lot of memories here and stuff,” Clendenin said.

Fifth grader Zander Hall will not be getting to attend the new school as he will move on to Elkview Middle School this fall. But spending his entire elementary education in the portables, he said he’ll remember them well.

“It has been crammed and there’s not really a lot of room, but it has been good,” said Hall.

First grade teacher Whittney Louden was teaching at Clendenin Elementary before the June 2016 flood and has taught all throughout the 8 years following in the portables.

She reflected back on what it was like for all of them initially following the flood.

“It was overwhelming, it was sad, a lot of people lost their homes, and we were just trying to do the best that we could do in this small space but we’re excited for what’s to come,” Louden said.

Louden said they’re ready to start a new chapter for Clendenin Elementary.

“It feels so surreal and so exciting, we’ve been a little bit overwhelmed packing up getting ready to go, but we’ve visited our new building and we’re ready to start working together,” she said.

The new 65,000 square foot building is located atop a mountain just off U.S. Route 119 on Wolverton Mountain Road in Clendenin.

Gurski said it will be a little bit of a different learning environment for them up there at the new school because all of the students will be in learning pods. This means the students will get a variety of course instruction, from one-on-one, small group and whole group instruction with all of the teachers together.

She anticipates the pods to be beneficial for the students’ overall learning experience.

“For instance, in the first grade pod, all of the first graders would be in one central location and then groups of students will be pulled out into studios, so we feel like that’s going to work out really great because it’s smaller groups of kids getting core instruction,” said Gurski.

Louden said she’s also excited for the new way of teaching.

“I think all of the teachers here work really well together so I think that it will be a great thing,” Louden said.

The school had faced a similar fate as Herbert Hoover High School whose former building was also lost in that flood. They had moved into their new building in the fall of last year.

Now, it’s Clendenin Elementary School’s turn.

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