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At age 58, school is in its final days


Solley Elementary School, a solid, brick building with immense 6-foot-high windows, looks as though it could stand forever. But it won't.

Construction workers building a new, larger Solley Elementary a few yards away are set to demolish next week the building that has been a Solley Road landmark. In its place, they will put a parking lot.

"Within a two-week period, the school will be gone," said Bernard Eckhart, construction project manager.

Mark Moran, a school board official, said all that will remain of the old school, which is almost 60 years old, will be a pile of bricks that workers will set aside for the school's PTA, which plans to sell them one-by-one to raise money.

In the early 1930s, when the Marley Neck peninsula was mostly farmland, the only school in the area was a one-room building on Marley Neck Boulevard. Solley Elementary School was built in 1937 on donated land along Solley Road, said Ginger Babicky, a secretary who has been at Solley Elementary for 28 years.

Its cafeteria was a cramped room with raised hardwood floors and one pantry.

In 1954, four classrooms, a multipurpose room and an office were added to the north side of the building, enlarging it to its current 16,000 square feet.

Thousands of students have attended classes inside its walls, 163 of them this year.

Now, a water fountain torn from a wall lies in the middle of a dark hallway. All knobs have been taken from the doors, and many of the doors have been taken from their hinges to be propped against walls inside classrooms.

A thick mass of wires curls from two junction boxes in the hallway. The clock is stopped at 10:39.

Only the students' names, taped to the walls in recognition of their achievements, are reminders that students learned and played in the school for 58 years.

From a window of a bright, yellow classroom, just beyond the tan portable classroom where fifth-graders studied this year, the new Solley Elementary School that Principal Debroh Huey, administrators and parents fought so hard for is visible.

The new 88,000-square-foot building sits on about 14 acres. It has 18 classrooms, two playgrounds, a computer room, a gymnasium and a media center. Each classroom will have a television, a phone and a set of lockers. Connecting each pair of classrooms is a large planning room for teachers and two bathrooms.

When Solley Elementary opens in September, 407 students are to attend. Students will come from Sunset and High Point elementary schools, but Solley still will have room for about 150 more.

Mrs. Babicky might miss the old building. "There's a lot of nostalgia connected to it," she said. "But it's nice to have a new school to go to."

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