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Packing day at Lincoln Elementary School in Dixon

Dixon students attend classes at building for final time

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 5, 2014 11:35 a.m. CDT
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Lincoln Elementary School second-grade teacher Candace Buikema had to rent a storage unit to keep her classroom materials safe while transferring to Jefferson School next school year. Wednesday marked the last day for students at the closing Dixon school.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
One last message on the whiteboard bids farewell to the Dixon school.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Lincoln Elementary School second-grade teacher Candace Buikema had to rent a storage unit to keep her classroom materials safe while transferring to Jefferson School next school year. Wednesday marked the last day for students at the closing Dixon school.
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(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Ethan Hays, a third-grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Dixon, is one of the last students to exit the school Wednesday. Lincoln will be closed next school year.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
A statue of Abraham Lincoln working on his studies as a child sits surrounded by moving boxes, as the last schoolday at Lincoln Elementary School comes to an end. Dixon is closing the south-side school and will be busing students to Jefferson next school year.
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(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
School children line up for the buses Wednesday at Lincoln Elementary School in Dixon.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Like most teachers at Lincoln, Candace Buikema jammed boxes full of materials, marked them with care and delivery instructions, and stacked them in her classroom.

DIXON – Midday Wednesday, there were cars lining the street outside Lincoln Elementary School, much like any other day during the school year. But this was for the last time.

In December, the Dixon School Board voted to close the building, in an effort to address a budget deficit.

Next year, second- and third-grade students will attend Jefferson Elementary School, part of the district's reshuffling to account for the closed building.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students will be housed at the reopened Madison Elementary School, which is connected to Reagan Middle School; and pre-kindergarten and early childhood programs at Reagan will transfer to Washington Elementary School, which will still house kindergarteners and first-graders.

Trista Pitman, of Dixon, was among the parents waiting outside the school for dismissal on Wednesday. She said she trusts the district's administration and teachers to make the reorganization work.

"It's sad," Pitman said of the building's closure. "I went to Lincoln School when I was a kid. I understand why they're doing it, though."

Teachers and staff at Lincoln have done what they could these last few weeks to start packing, while also keeping activity as normal as possible for the students, Principal Dan Rick said.

By Wednesday afternoon, the inside of the school looked more like the house of a family packing up to move.

There were boxes stacked in the hallways and in classrooms, piles of books on tables, and empty boxes waiting to be filled with more supplies.

Candace Buikema, a second-grade teacher, was packing up her first-floor classroom and had a pile of boxes to be left for the district to move, as well as piles to take herself.

She's already taken photos of her new classroom in Jefferson and is planning how she will arrange the room, trying to find a place for all of her supplies and the additional items – extra books, a stereo and a bookshelf – that she's accumulated as a teacher.

"We're hoarders by nature," she said. "We have a lot of good stuff."

No decision has been made about what to do with the building once the district is finished with it.

Open Sesame Child Care Center will be moving into Lincoln for its summer program, Superintendent Michael Juenger said, because of work being done at Reagan.

"The board is committed to making sure the building doesn't become an eyesore to the city and the neighborhood and the district," he said, adding that the school board doesn't have any firm plans at this point.

In addition to the reshuffling of grades, there is regular maintenance work that needs to be done to all the buildings, Juenger said, and as buildings and classrooms become available, teachers will begin to move into their new classrooms.

When asked how long she will wait to get started on unpacking, Buikema's answer was simple: "As soon as I get the key."

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