When the demolition team levels in a few weeks, the ceiling tiles with painted handprints of students will fall. The wall murals created by parents will crumble. The wooden bleachers in the gym where the annual parent-teacher basketball games were held will buckle and break. But the students, staff and parents of Mableton Elementary know that the memories created at the school will remain.
Generations of Mabletonians are expected to show up for the Remember Mableton Day event on April 28 at the site of the new Mableton Elementary School.
The new school is a replacement for the older building, which was built 60 years ago. The school, however, was first established in 1883 in a building owned by the Glore family.
As a, the new school will house the merged schools of Mableton Elementary and for a total approximately 900 students, twice the school’s current student population. The state-of-the-art facility, which will be completed and opened by fall of this year, contains a treehouse, a news station, a science lab and much more.
Former students such as former Gov. Roy Barnes, Eddy Barber and three generations of the Daniell family plan to attend the celebration on April 28.
Joe Daniell, 70, attended Mableton Elementary from first grade until sixth grade in the 1940s and 1950s. Then, the school was the center of his life. His fondest memories include field trips to the Grant Park Zoo and the Capitol, basketball games, Halloween carnivals and a fundraiser known as “womanless weddings.”
The boys would dress up as either brides or grooms to raise money for the school.
“It was a hoot then,” Joe Daniel said.
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At the ripe old age of 13, Joe Daniell’s school bus driver offered him the chance to drive the 1952 Chevrolet bus while he went to discipline a boy in the back of the heaving yellow monster.
“Just keep it straight,” the bus driver told him.
He pulled the throttle and drove the bus along Nickajack Road, which was a dirt road then, thinking all the while that he could never tell his father, who served on the county school board at the time.
Joe’s son, Alex, lived in Mableton for most of his life.
He remembered that his classroom would smell of Crayola crayons because he and his friends would melt them over the radiators for fun. He remembered his sassy teacher, Mrs. Sprinkle, and his hilarious PE teacher, Coach Allen.
“He could always get a chuckle out of you,” he said.
For Alex Daniell, the feeling is bittersweet. His son, Clay, has attended Mableton Elementary in the same building he did, but next year will move on to the new building.
“The fact that it’s been here with us all these years, it’s kind of a landmark. It’s sentimental,” Alex Daniell said, adding that he would like to keep a brick from the old building.
Dr. Judith Jones, who spent her first year student teaching at Mableton Elementary, said she would like to do the same.
Current Mableton Elementary played a huge role in the design of the new school.
“When you walk through all you can say is ‘oh my God,’” Eisgruber said, adding that when she recently walked through the almost completed building, she and staff members began to weep.
“It’s big, but the size of the school isn’t what makes a school,” Eisgruber said. “We have two small schools and we’re bringing them together. They already know how to be a family, how to build that culture.”
The schools have worked cooperatively for PTA nominations and a recent joint picnic and other coordinated events and meetings.
“It’s worked out really well. There’s a lot of worry, but the thing is you’ve got to wait,” Eisgruber said. “One thing’s for sure, it is going to be a powerhouse here.”
As former students, staff and parents catch up with one another at the upcoming Remember Mableton Day, as they shed tears and as they stand smiling for the panoramic picture of them all, they undoubtedly will recall that the school was warm, comforting and had a lot of heart.
“You have a lot of remembrances,” Joe Daniell said. “You know things have to change, but you can keep the memories.”
Editor's Note: South Cobb Patch is a partner in education for Mableton Elementary.