Bonner Elementary Demolition Underway

One of the oldest elementary schools in Tyler is knocked down in order to rebuild it.  Bonner Elementary opened more than 100 years ago and has seen thousands of students come through its doors. Today, dozens of residents stopped by to see their beloved school one last time as demolition crews began their work.  The event brought former students from different generations together.

"It hurts but it was old and it needed probably tearning down," said Donald Hill, who attended Bonner Elementary from 1937 to 1942.

"You've got mixed emotions. It's sad to see it go, but it's outlived its usefulness," said William Rouse, a student at Bonner Elementary from 1942 to 1948.

Hill and Rouse didn't know each other back then, but this morning they quickly bonded watching their old school get torn down.   They recalled their favorite memories, which included their peers, teachers and the school's cook, Katy.

"We had victory garden, this was during World War II. We'd grow vegetables out back and Katy would pick them and she'd either fix them for salad or cook something," said Rouse.

"I particularly enjoyed the music end of the school with Ms. Mercer and made us listen to old, classical music and I won't ever forget it," Hill said.

Current students and employees also stopped by to say goodbye to their school. "It's sad, you know, because this building has been here for so long," said Argelia Espinosa, a staff member at Bonner Elementary.  Two of her children attended the school.

Some filmed the demolition, others took photographs. But there were those who wanted to take a piece of the school home with them. For former students and faculty, bricks, which were once part of the school, are the last concrete reminder they will have, a piece of history they say they plan to cherish forever.

Voters approved the demolition in 2004 as part of TISD's master facilities improvement plan. A new school building is set to be built in time for the 2007-2008 school year.

Oralia Ortega, reporting.