Former Students Say Goodbye To Tulsa School

Saturday, May 16th 2009, 5:54 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Clinton Middle School will be torn down in less than a month, and hundreds of former students turned out for an open house Saturday.

It was their last chance to walk the halls of the 85-year-old building that will be torn down to make way for the new Clinton.

"Let's go up here, and I'll show you the classroom I remember most," said Tom Keith, who took his grandson on a stroll down memory lane.

Keith graduated more than 40 years ago, and his father also went to Clinton.

On the last day he walked the historic halls, he recalled a particular spot.

"I was sitting right about here, and the PA announcement came on that President Kennedy had been shot, and the class got silent," Keith said. "And then later on they announced that he had died. And it ... pretty well changed everybody."

That event was the defining moment of his childhood. For so many other students, the Pride of the West Side defined theirs, too.

"To me, it's a staple of the community ... and it's kind of bittersweet that it's going," Principal John Autry said.

Autry attended Clinton, and so did his son and grandson. He says the new school will have room for hundreds of more students, with bigger classrooms and a bigger auditorium.

But it won't have the memories.

"It means the age of innocence and growing up and learning life," Keith said.

The new Clinton is built for the 21st century, but the former students came out one last time for a snapshot of the past, before it's gone for good.

The last class at the old Clinton school will be Friday afternoon, and the building will be torn down next month.

In its place, a parking lot will go up for the new Clinton school.