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Memories shared at South Plympton open house

By Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer

Former South Plympton Public School principal Bob Hext holds a drawing by former teacher Brian Richardson of Hext and Hext's wife Kerri, another former teacher, amid symbols from various plays the couple helped put on at the school. The drawing was among tables of memorabilia at the April 28 open house for South Plympton. The school is closing after this school year. Tyler Kula/Postmedia Network

Former South Plympton Public School principal Bob Hext holds a drawing by former teacher Brian Richardson of Hext and Hext's wife Kerri, another former teacher, amid symbols from various plays the couple helped put on at the school. The drawing was among tables of memorabilia at the April 28 open house for South Plympton. The school is closing after this school year. Tyler Kula/Postmedia Network

Hundreds turned out to South Plympton Public School to say their goodbyes on April 28.

Classrooms at the elementary school were packed with pictures, yearbooks and other memorabilia dating back to its opening in 1963.

The primary grades school is merging with its sister school in Wyoming in September.

South Plympton closes when classes end in June.

The new school is being called Plympton-Wyoming Public School.

“A lot of the (Wyoming Public) students, of course, that are there attended South Plympton as well,” said DeeAnna Stokes, South Plympton’s vice-principal.

“So the feeling is they’re going to the big school,” she said about the vibe students as they get ready for next September.

Former principal Bob Hext was one of the people at the open house Saturday.

“It’s good and it’s bad,” he said about the occasion and the looming amalgamation.

“Sorry to see that this is the end of the school,” he said.

Hext, principal from 1967 to 1981, recalled putting on school plays with his wife Kerri, a former South Plympton teacher, during their time there.

Videos of those past productions were also playing at the open house, which featured button making, face painting, a photo booth, and a memorabilia silent auction.

“It’s kind of sad, but it’s nice to meet former students and other people that I know from the time my wife was teaching here,” Hext said. “The part I always liked was working with the kids.”

Among the South Plympton memorabilia items heading to the new site in the fall are an academic proficiency award from 1963, athletic trophies from the same year, the original school plaque and a memory quilt, Stokes said.

“There’s so much to celebrate here at South Plympton,” she said.

The day also included acknowledgement for bus driver Bruce Roane, who started driving at the school in 1963.

Generations of students present and past took a ride to the school with Roane to kick off the open house.

“The whole event came outside to greet him,” Stokes said. “We had music playing and gave him a recognition that he deserves.”

In 55 years, Roane said he’s seen the school add its library, and some new rules come along for busing.

“It’s always been very friendly and really part of the community,” he said, adding he’ll be sad to see South Plympton go.

“It’s really overwhelming to see the amount of people that are here,” he said. “I think it says a lot (about) this school.”