Memories live on as old Banks School demolishment nears

Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 3:14 PM CST
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BANKS, Ala. (WSFA) - Saying goodbye can be hard. Sometimes starting over can be a good thing, but it doesn’t ease the pain of seeing something you love being torn down.

There are a lot folks in Banks, Alabama, who are struggling a little with the fact that their old middle school will be leveled and replaced with a new building. Kids have been walking those halls since the 1930s, and many families have seen three generations come and go.

“I guess time goes on,” said former student Randall Smith. “I’m glad for the student, and I hope it’ll be good for them.”

This old building has touched so many families.

“My husband went to this school,” said teacher Tammy Calhoun. “As I was moving in (to my classroom) my father in law was helping me, and he said this was his math classroom.”

Even when the building is gone, the stories and memories will live forever.

“This is Pike County Alabama,” said Smith, who recalled “our principal let us come to school barefoot the last week of the school year.”

“The first year I got a spanking on the first day for running in the hall,” said former student Diane Johnston. “The second year in second grade I improved and got a spanking on the second day. By third grade I learned you don’t run in the halls.”

“We heated the building with coal stoves,” said former student Don Renfroe. “Every student had a job whether it was cleaning the classroom or toting in the coal.”

“I have a neighbor who is 85-years-old,” said current principal Shantell Rose. “The first thing she said when she heard the building was coming down, she said please bring me a brick. It holds a lot of memories for a lot of people.”

The hardwood floors and old chalkboards will be gone. The new school will be equipped with new technology. But the spirit of the old Banks Middle School will always be here.

“If it’s going to make education better, let her go,” said Renfroe.

But before they let “her” go, former students teachers and the community can take one last look during a final weekend event.

There will be tours, t-shirts, and a chance to even buy old doors and commemorative bricks. The tours will be on Saturday, March 6 from 8 a.m. to noon and again on Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

They’re hoping the new school will be ready by the summer of 2022.

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