DeGolyer Alumni Embrace ‘Memories and Friendship’

Ahead of upcoming demolition, friends gathered on campus one last time

DeGolyer Elementary School alumni of all ages gathered May 24 for one last lap of the school before its upcoming demolition.

One sixth grader was overheard saying “everything feels so different,” despite leaving the campus just a year ago.

On the other hand, graduates from decades ago walked the halls, amazed at the similarities to their time in elementary, while pointing out their old classrooms, connecting with former teachers, finding their old lockers, and reminiscing with their then classmates.

“Each one of us has very very small, specific memories of something so innocuous, and it’s the smallest of things that we can share with each other, be it a certain teacher or certain room,” Gary Dean, who started at DeGolyer in 1964, said on reunion day.

Donna Prosser started teaching at DeGolyer when it reopened in 1993 and retired four years ago. She attended the reunion to gather mementos and connect with former parents and students.

“I opened it with a ceremony; I wanted to close it with a ceremony, too,” she said, standing in a hallway known as Prosser Way, which was named in her honor.

Kirk Fulmer and Gary Dean, both 1976 high school graduates, were found sitting in the auditorium seats — the same furniture that was present during their elementary school years prior to air conditioning in the school.

DeGolyer has a strong alumni base that gets together for an annual flag football game in the winter and takes a separate group photo at W.T. White High School reunions: “In our class in particular, there’s still a lot of us who get together,” Dean said.

“Elementary school is kind of like your first job,” said Fulmer, who started at DeGolyer in 1965. “It’s your first (time) out of the house, and I think a lot of people take that for granted. You make friends; it’s just a huge part of your life (but) something no one ever talks about.”

Fulmer and Dean lived within one street of each other while attending DeGolyer.

“A lot of people don’t have that (friendship),” Dean said. “They may have high school friends or college friends, but elementary school friends, no.”

During the reunion, Don McClendon visited a spot of the school that he could never forget — the hallway area he was standing in during fourth grade on Nov. 22, 1963, when he learned President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

“When I walked, I got goosebumps, just standing in that (space),” McClendon said.

A highlight for attendees was connecting over memories and friendship.

“(It’s) interesting because when you share those stories, I might remember something Kirk says or vice versa, and that’s what memories do for you,” Dean said. “We don’t want to live in the past, but it’s nice to revisit.”

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