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Fair Street school emptied, Woods Mill campus readied for students
Faculty, former students helped move necessary items to new facility
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A sign indicating which furniture to move to Wood’s Mill Academy hangs on the door of a classroom inside one of the modular buildings at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School in Gainesville during moving day. Fair Street is moving to Wood’s Mill Academy. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Farewell to Fair Street

When: 2-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School 695 Fair St., Gainesville
More Information: The event features tours of the school building, food and fun for the Fair Street community. Purchase an engraved brick from the building for $10 and a book will be donated in your name to the new Fair Street school’s library.

The sounds of metal cabinets, wooden tables and cardboard boxes being wheeled onto moving trucks echoed through the empty halls of Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School Tuesday as the school began its transition to the Wood’s Mill campus.

Fair Street has been a fixture in the Gainesville community since 1937, and the building was finally showing its age. City school officials approved a special purpose local option sales tax to demolish and rebuild the school later this year.

“Everyone packed their things, but then there’s things that don’t really belong to anybody, but we need it. Like the basket that the mail goes in,” Assistant Principal Kim Davis said, motioning toward the full boxes littering the main office. “We have miles of bubble wrap.”

Moving crews that included Fair Street faculty and former students are moving the school, grade by grade, in vans stuffed to the brim, leaving behind only furniture Davis said would be auctioned off at a later date.

After maintenance crews cleared it last week, the only remnants of her office at the school were a pile of pens, pencils, tape and a box of tissues.

It’s a week that’s hard for Davis, a former Fair Street student and teacher, to accept.

“Saturday I was out in the yard — my husband has a lawn business — and when you’re (leaf) blowing, you don’t have anything better to do than just think,” she said. “I was just bawling.”

Davis said the trees and flowers outside the school were being moved elsewhere before Fair Street is torn down.
A geothermal study team was set to visit the building site Tuesday as well.

“They have to do core samples. We hope they find nothing but dirt,” Davis said. “They’re making sure there’s nothing surprising underneath, probably making sure we don’t have any unknown water tables or materials that are bad for the environment.”

Fair Street students will have a slightly different setup when they arrive at the Wood’s Mill campus for class.

Pre-kindergarteners will be in the section of Wood’s Mill where the employee day care is now housed. Kindergartners, administrators and the main office will be in the front hallway, and the remaining grades will be in modular buildings.

“Our language teachers and our (English as a Second Language) teachers will go into the classrooms. They’ll have a cart and they will travel from room to room to serve the kids,” Davis said. “Our special education teachers will have a classroom, but two of our programs moved to New Holland — our severe and profound program and our mild and moderate program. They have the facilities and equipment that can accommodate these children.”

Despite the students being in different buildings, Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said there will be plenty of time to socialize.

“They’ve talked about the importance of being sure that there are common times of assemblies and programs to where they bring everyone together,” said Dyer, a former Fair Street teacher and administrator. “Frankly I don’t think it’s going to be that much different. I think it’s just a matter of getting adjusted.”

Dyer said the Wood’s Mill campus will provide new opportunities for Fair Street students. They will be able to work with Gainesville and Wood’s Mill high schools on mentoring and service learning experiences.

Despite the influx of an entire elementary school within the campus, Dyer said Wood’s Mill was only losing a small amount of classroom space.

“The art room that they had used as an assembly room, they’ve lost that space. The media center is the Wood’s Mill school’s media center. They’re going to share part of it with Fair Street but Fair Street will have another room to house their books and do their programs,” she said.

The fate of community outreach programs formerly housed at Fair Street is still ambiguous because of the loss of the school’s gym. Dyer said school board officials are looking at moving the open library and computer lab programs to New Holland Core Knowledge Academy or another school nearby.

“It’s going to be a challenge (to schedule), especially in the winter when it’s basketball, wrestling and all of those things,” Dyer said. “It’s going to be an adventure, but it always is.”

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