Another school year has come and gone as 14-year-old Amy Cruz takes one last look back.
"I'm excited and nervous about high school," Cruz, an eighth grader, said.
Cruz and the rest of her eighth grade classmates are about to begin a new phase of their lives. The place they've called home for the last three years, Axtell Park Middle School, also faces a transition. Once classes let out Thursday, Axtell Park Middle School will empty out and make way for all of the district's alternative programs. Next year, Axtell Park students will go to the new George McGovern Middle School -- on the northwest side of town. Programs from Joe Foss Alternative High School will move into the empty building, as well as the Sioux Falls School District's other alternative schools.
"I walked in and the walls were pretty blank. I was kind of surprised, because on most last days of school, not everything is taken down," Cruz said.
You will see boxes stacked upon boxes all throughout the building. Teachers must remove everything by Friday and turn in their keys. Renovations begin on Monday, so the new school is ready for the fall.
"It is the end of an era," Perry Nugteren, physical education teacher, said.
Nugteren has been walking these halls ever since he was a student here from 1977-1979. Decade after decade, he has seen the building grow and diversify.
"I'm just hoping that I don't drive here to school next year, instead of going to George McGovern. My car's just used to coming here every day," Nugteren said.
It is hard to say goodbye to an old identity, but students and former students do not necessarily see it as negative.
"They're still putting use to the building, instead of just tearing it down. I guess it's still good because it still gets to stay up," Iman Legesse, student, said.
"We're excited to go to the new school. I think the kids are excited to have a nice, new building. Something new for them," Nugteren said.
The building will retain the key part of its name and incorporate the uniqueness of the individual programs that will move in. For example, the Joe Foss Alternative Program will be called Joe Foss Alternative at Axtell Park.