Rome City Schools’ administrators, board members, community leaders, and those who are part of the North Heights family past and present gathered at the school to say farewell to a building that holds memories for them all.
North Heights, which opened in 1971, closed its doors at the end of this year ahead of the opening of the new Main and North Heights Elementary School that is scheduled for completion before school starts in the fall of 2019.
In honor of these individuals and their contributions to Rome City Schools, the system held a community celebration where speakers were invited to recall their time at North Heights. Visitors had the chance to purchase T-shirts designed by third-grader Ka’mya McCain.
“I will always remember being taught by Ms. Felicia Hall,” said William Peugh, a current fifth-grader who attended the celebration with his mother, Rosalyn. “She was so nice and she taught me how to multiply fractions.”
Peugh said she is glad her son was able to attend school at North Heights and she has fond memories of the school, as well.
“I am so pleased with the way we all work together to educate our kids at this school. The teachers were always willing to communicate with the parents, and I know that won’t change when we get to the new building.”
Hillary Daniel, an educator at Rome Middle School, offered the perspective of a former student who has now returned to teach in the system that has helped to prepare her for a career in education.
“North Heights was a small school, and because of that fact, we were able to form close friendships in class and build strong bonds with our teachers. When we see each other in the community it feels as if we can pick up right where we left off. The only thing that will change is the building and if they work hard in class, then maybe one day they can come back and teacher other students in a school that has meant as much to them as North Heights has to me.”
“I was here as a student from 1979 in kindergarten until 1985 where I graduated as a sixth-grade student,” said Miriam Loveless, who currently serves RCS as a counselor at East Central Elementary School.
“I was thinking about my times at this school before I drove over and one of the things I remember is the first day of school every year. In the front of the lobby, there are these huge glass windows. When we were students here we were so anxious to get started, and one of the biggest things we looked forward to was finding out who our teacher would be. Our parents would bring us to the glass windows to find our names under our teacher’s list that was posted to the glass windows. It was on gigantic chart paper and I will never forget the feeling of looking for my name.”
Loveless went on to say that the teachers and the relationships they formed meant the world to her.
“Memories just start to come back, like my third-grade teacher who used to sing the Friday Song, every single Friday,” she said with a laugh. “I had another teacher who always said, ‘OK, people!’ and I have talked with former classmates about that memory. We all knew that was Ms. Dean.”
Kristy Lee attended classes at North Heights from second grade until sixth grade and she is also a school counselor for Paulding County Schools.
“I remember my favorite teacher and her name was Ms. Wilson. She taught me in fifth grade, if I remember correctly. This school laid the foundation for my educational success. My school counselor while I was here selected me to serve on the school safety patrol, and now I am the safety patrol coordinator at my school. I am hopeful that I am able to offer my students the same encouragement that I was offered here at North Heights. I want them all to listen to their teachers, do their best and always remember to ask for help if they need it. It has made all the difference for me.”
Another RCS educator, Jennifer Perkins, said that she would not have missed the chance to say good-bye to a place where she learned so much and was inspired by educators who would provided the roadmap for her to become the principal of Rome City Schools’ Transitional Academy and Phoenix Learning Center.
“I started school at North Heights when I was in fourth grade. My mother was a teacher and she taught here for 26 years,” Perkins recalled. “This was actually the foundation for my education. I have many memories of this building and how it used to look, but I remember the people more. There were five women who had a direct impact on me and who shaped my life. They are Glenda Allen, Belinda Bain, Sandra Hughley-Camp, Hendrice Berrien and Pam Davis. They are the reason why I work in education now. I remember one particular day that I was a bit down and did not believe in myself. I was in my mom’s room and I said that I didn’t believe I could do something. By the time they were finished with me, I felt like I could be President of the United States.”
Guest speakers also included three former North Heights principals: Tygar Evans, Rita Carter and Tonya Wood, who currently serves at RCS Central Office. Current Principal Wesley Styles, Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars and central office administrator Ginger Rowston also spoke.