BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — Former students and teachers at Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School in Blythewood started saying their final goodbyes on Thursday. The school will soon be demolished to make room for a new facility.
“I was here ‘71, ‘72, and ‘73 and I’d just like to say it was the greatest experience of my life," said former student Darlene Peak-Bloom.
“You knew all the school administrators, you knew the teachers, all the students and all the families, and it was such a wonderful experience being here," she added.
Former students say the school started as an all-Black school in the 1940's. Patricia Green says she was a student in 1976, when the school first became integrated.
“It was tough. It was hard, okay? It was hard for both groups," said Green.
What is now known as Blythewood Academy was formerly an all-white school called The Blythewood School. Students at the school integrated Bethel High.
"We had to learn how to communicate and to get along with each other because you have to remember, we were rival schools," said Green.
Annie Hanberry was the principal and in 1967, Bethel High was renamed Bethel-Hanberry High.
“Annie Hanberry, she was the best principal. She was a principal that you... she was strict, don’t get me wrong now she was very strict. But she was also a principal that you could go to and talk to," said Green.
Patricia's husband, Larry Green, attended Bethel from first through eleventh grade.
“It’s a great school. Played football, basketball, and ran track here at Bethel. So it was a great memory to be back here tonight. We’re gonna miss this school a lot," he said.
Construction on the new building started last December. Principal Shannon Holland says it should be finished by late July or early August of next year. The current facility will remain open until the new one is completed.