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Breidablik School: 1989-2013 | Kipp's Corner

From left, Gordon Elementary School third-grade teacher Kelly Rosenbach, Gordon PTA President Dawn Fairless, and Gordon parent Siri Reinbold embrace after the decision to close Breidablik Feb. 28 in the North Kitsap High School Commons.                                                              - Kipp Robertson / Herald
From left, Gordon Elementary School third-grade teacher Kelly Rosenbach, Gordon PTA President Dawn Fairless, and Gordon parent Siri Reinbold embrace after the decision to close Breidablik Feb. 28 in the North Kitsap High School Commons.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson / Herald

BREIDABLIK — I remember my first day of school, at least in bits and pieces.

As a new Breidablik Bear, I proudly marched into the room with my favorite Batman T-shirt on.

A room full of children sat in front of kindergarten teacher Patrick Pearson, chatting in one of two classrooms in the east wing. I quietly walked in and sat down with the rest of the group.

My public education had begun.

The school was built in 1989 and opened to a full student body of kindergarten through sixth-grade students in fall 1990.

Though Breidablik was younger than the students studying in it, it had already become a staple of the community.

Memorable times included the Halloween haunted house, the reading chain, tetherball, kickball, and time spent healing from injuries on the gymnasium floor.

Every Halloween, students looked forward to creeping through the hallways that transformed into a fright-fest. Seeing a classroom door we used everyday transform into a cave full of webs and spiders was a thrill. Teachers were always there to offer a scare and candy, or a healthy alternative. The reading chain the school pieced together at the end of the year gave us a goal to meet. The reading chain, for those not familiar, was made of color paper. For each book a student read, he or she would add another link to their personal chain. At the end of the year, the school would make a giant circle in the upper field, linking all the chains together. It was fun.

Of course, playground activities were always a hit.

There were always lines for tetherball. Kids laughed and screamed during intense battles of either one-on-one or teams of two, each side fighting to spin the ball around the pole.

The upper field is another aspect of the school remembered fondly. It’s probably not as big as young students pictured it, but it was enough room for field games galore. Kickball was always a crowd favorite.

Not all things that stick in my mind about Breidablik are events.

First of all, it was never clear why the gymnasium floor was carpeted. Elementary students get enough bumps and bruises during their day, but the rug burns facing any student that happened to slip on the gymnasium floor were extra special.

And who could forget Rainy Day Recess? The thought of having to sit in the hallway for 20 or 30 minutes — because it was raining outside — is enough to make an adult cringe.

Field trips were always memorable. The chaperones, usually parents, helped make the learning-aspect of trips fun; sometimes I forgot we were on a school field trip at all.

There are plenty of memories any former Breidablik Bear could go into, and many more long forgotten. Thinking back now, however, I realize that what I remember most are the people that came into my life and the connections that were made.

There are still lifelong friends from Breidablik that I keep in touch with — and not only on Facebook. On any given day, I still run into former classmates who I shared so much time with me in the ’90s. I met my roommate, a long-time friend, in Barbara Hall’s first-grade class. I’ve been there as friends from Breidablik found jobs, graduated from high school and college, married, had children, and become homeowners.

As I began working on this column, I quickly found out students weren’t the only people at Breidablik to have bonded.

During a conversation with my former fifth- and sixth-grade teacher Joni Landeen, I was told the staff at Breidablik was close.

“I gotta tell ya, we were like family,” Landeen quipped. “We were a really tight staff.”

My teacher of two years said the staff would always do things together outside of school. The staff would have get-togethers on Fridays and hold group outings, including river-rafting in Leavenworth. They would visit during summer vacation as well.

The staff at Breidablik played jokes on each other and placed funny cartoons in teachers’ mailboxes. During the holidays, there would be Secret Santa parties. Each Friday, people would bring snacks for the lounge.

There was always bonding going on.

“I miss those days,” Landeen said. “I kind of long to go back there… Didn’t realize how special that was. That’s hard to recapture.”

Student-teacher relationships were built as well. Landeen still keeps in touch with many of her former students via Facebook. She runs into former pupils and their families around town as well. The students “feel like family too,” she said.

Pearson, my kindergarten teacher, began working at Breidablik when it opened; he saw the site during a tour before the school was built.

The leadership, especially under principal Mary Lou Murphy, made Breidablik a place where teachers felt like they could grow, he said.

Pearson also taught at Wolfle and Suquamish, and now teaches at the Suquamish Tribe’s Marion Forsman Boushie Early Learning Center. His grandmother lived in North Kitsap when each community had its own school. Over time, those community schools were consolidated into larger ones. Likewise, the Breidablik community feels it is now losing that identity, he said.

In a private interview with North Kitsap School Board President Dan Weedin immediately following the decision to close Breidablik, Weedin told me Breidablik was “truly a community school.” A large number of students live within walking distance, and many residents are involved with the school.

There is a “deep pride” at the school, he said. Because the school has been bounced around as a candidate for closure for years, Weedin said he believes the Breidablik community came even closer together “to fight the good fight.”

“It’s a terrific community,” he said. “Passionate about what and who they are. I was impressed with that.”

It is very likely that students and staff from Breidablik will be at different schools in the 2013-14 school year. Although students may study elsewhere and teachers may teach elsewhere and parents may fundraise at different schools, it’s important to remember that the relationships and experiences from Breidablik will endure long after the school closes. And that’s what’s most important.

In all the public hearings leading up to the closure of Breidablik, I still think Gordon Elementary third-grade teacher Kelly Rosenbach spoke on the closure decision the best.

“It’s not easy,” Rosenbach said Jan. 23 of the decision to close a school. “No one wants to do this, but we need to step forward positively and proactively and really support each other.”

 

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