Celebrating Expo's past and reflecting on the future - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Celebrating Expo's past and reflecting on the future

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Thursday night, families and staff members celebrate nearly three decades of learning on Franklin Street in Waterloo. Next year, the program moves to McKinstry, the site of a former elementary school.

Organizers tried to keep the mood light and fun. But there were also a lot of tears shed as former students and staff members say goodbye to, what they call, home.

Besides saying farewell to a building, several teachers are retiring. And many students believe, Expo as they know it won't carry over to the new building.

"I am very proud. I'm proud of the school, I'm proud of the teachers and everybody who went here," said 2000 Expo graduate Tabitha Gardner.

"They're yours for life. And now that they've come back, you saw me -- we're hugging, saying hi! Where you been,what are you doing. And I think that's it, you build those real strong relationships that go beyond the classroom," noted Rachelle Brown, Expo Biology teacher.

Hiding in the celebration, is a sad reminder that students and teachers are saying goodbye to the expo they knew.

"Honestly I think it sucks! This is Expo's home. This is where Expo belongs, but who am I to say? This is home for me, so it's very sad," said noted Gardner.

In the new building, students will take most of their classes on a computer, and many worry, teens won't have the one-on-one time they need.

"When they have a relationship, they care about whether they come or not, because they feel guilty -- the teacher's going to care. The adult in their life is going to care," said retiring teacher Cheri Cederlund.

This is also the final week for Roots and Wings, an on-site daycare program which helped care for tots and educate young parents.

"I think the teen dropout rate is going to go up, because a lot of people don't have daycare," said current student Alqueisha Campbell.

"We're pleading with the community to step up, to offer the services. They really need connection, it's not just a place to drop your kids off, and the children are taken care of. The teens also need that support," added Cederlund.

The district is offering to help teen parents find daycare for their kids, and the superintendent says class sizes will remain small, and a teacher is always available for individual help.

Friday Black Hawk Elementary will hold their school closing ceremony. Black Hawk kids are combining with Edison Elementary students for 2010-2011. A new building is going up on Black Hawk's current site. That's scheduled to open for the 2011-2012 school year. Although the celebration is Friday, the students last day of school at Black Hawk is Monday.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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