When the St. Louis Arena was imploded in 1999, its large, white banners flapped in the wind as the historic building came tumbling down.
The walls couldn’t talk, but the flying banners, some might say, were a symbolic good-bye to all who came through the turnstiles for the many events held there between 1929 and 1994.
In Hannibal the same is happening.
Mark Twain Elementary School, which has stood between Hill and Bird for more than 100 years, is coming down piece by piece. For many, the memories are all that remain inside the rubble of crushed brick, stone and tangled steel. “If walls could talk,” has been one of the many things students, teachers and nearby residents have probably said at some point this summer.
Over the weekend, the walls somewhat did.
Demolition of the school left one of the classrooms on the top floor exposed and posted below the chalkboard for the entire neighborhood to see was a sign reading, “Kids are special.”
Max Capp noticed it Sunday morning.
“We were coming home from church and we just kind of looked at it, because we live right over the hill and I looked up there and saw the sign and thought that’s pretty cool,” Capp said. “You just don’t see that very often.”
Deanine Haynes taught on that particular floor, she says it’s not only a message from the old building as it stands on its final legs, but a reminder.
“I think it says what Mark Twain teachers have always said and will continue to say. It just speaks for what teachers think,” she said. “There’s something special about every kid out there, you just have to find it. Sometimes you search a little harder, but you have to find it in every kid so you can reach them.”
As the walls fall down, the old school building becomes a memory, and it can be an emotional experience to see the place where so many moments in life take place go into oblivion.
“It was very emotional, lots of memories in the old building for me and my son,” Haynes said of very final view before leaving on vacation. “Lot of late nights working and ordering pizza, shooting hoops in the gym to take a break, that kind of thing. I just look at it like everything else in education, you have to make the changes so you can do what’s best for kids.”