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Arlington says goodbye to Trafton School

ARLINGTON — Madison Schimpf wanted future generations to know what Trafton School meant to her.

So the fourth-grader collected sea shells and pine cones, wrote a note about how much she loved her school, wrapped up the items in a tube signed by her classmates and dropped it in the school's time capsule.

"They're just things that remind me of Trafton," she said. "I feel sad that Trafton is going to close. It's hard to explain."

Schimpf's emotion was common on Friday, June 18, which marked the final day of classes for a school that has been operating continuously since 1888.

Dozens of saddened and upset parents joined Trafton staff during the last day of school for more than 130 students, many of which will enroll in Eagle Creek Elementary next year.

"This is a loss for this community and it's always hard to deal with loss," said principal Ed Aylesworth. "You try to be as sensitive as you can and help people get through it."

The Arlington School Board unanimously voted on Monday, June 14, to close Trafton School after more than three months of hearings and public input from the community.

The Board cited dwindling state funding, district-wide under-enrollment and aging facilities as the main reasons for closing the school.

During the school's final day, many of Trafton's supporters were still saddened and confused by the Board's decision.

Trafton Parent Club President Kelly Roundy said that parents and teachers are still unclear as to the details of how their students will make the transition from Trafton to Eagle Creek, adding that she was not pleased with how the district handled the school's closure.

"We've been on a journey and life-long friendships have come out of this horrible situation," she said. "But we're still shocked and angry."

Trafton parent and former student Kerrie Taylor, whose two daughters CJ, 15, and Cheyenne, 10, attended the school, said that her family will make the best of the situation.

"It's definitely sad — it's a piece of history that they're letting go," Kerrie Taylor said.

Cheyenne Taylor said she would love for the school to keep going.

"You know everyone because it's such a small school," she said.

Trafton music teacher Ardis Hallanger said that so far all of the school's teachers have been told that they will have jobs within the district next school year.

Most of Trafton's staff is expected to transfer to Eagle Creek, meaning that teachers should be able to have former Trafton students again next year.

In spite of that, Hallanger said staff have still been feeling an overwhelming sense of loss.

"The Trafton community are really great people and they're trying to work through it the best they can," she said.

But Trafton's last day wasn't all sobs and question marks.

Aylesworth and school staff encouraged students to create or bring items to place in a time capsule located in front of the school.

More than 100 items were placed in the capsule, Aylesworth said.

Once school got out, students, staff and parents all held hands and encircled the school while Trafton's bell was rung for the last time.

Roundy led the students in a rendition of "My home's along the Cascade Mountains."

Despite the emotional day, Hallanger said that she's convinced that students will continue to thrive at whatever school they attend next year.

"Trafton will live on in the successful lives of these students," she said, wiping a tear from her eye.

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