Students And Alumni Bid Farewell To Old Sunset Ridge, Tour New School

CHICAGO (CBS) — Sunset Ridge School in Northfield is about to be torn down, to make way for an environmentally-friendly, $27 million dollar, state-of-the-art replacement.

Wednesday night, for 90 minutes, the school gave alumni one last chance to walk its halls and check out the nearly-completed new building.

Alumni and students could bid farewell on a “memorial wall” in the old school’s gym, and tell stories about years past to student broadcasters in the Memory Booth. Sunset Ridge 75th anniversary coffee mugs from 1999 were free for the taking, as were 20-year-old Eagle Song choral CDs.

Just walking into the gym, with its Class of ’78 Eagles flag hung from the wall, brought back memories of formal dance classes, basketball games, musicals and talent shows on the gymnasium stage and graduation exercises.

“It’s so much smaller than I remember,” said Kelly McGivern, a 1989 Sunset Ridge graduate who attended with her sister Meghan, who graduated in 1996.

Several said they are happy to see Northfield get a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified school, the first such elementary school building in Illinois.

Cindy Whittaker, who is superintendent of Skokie District 72, will have sons in Sunset Ridge’s 4th and 8th grade classes and said she is “thrilled” to see it nearing completion, although she said the old building and its teachers kindled her desire to become a teacher and a school administrator.

Others recalled formal dance classes and talent shows in the gym, and hearing the O.J. Simpson verdict delivered live over the school’s intercom.

Jason Harris, a 1979 alumnus, said he wanted to allow his “inner 13 year old” one more chance to walk the halls. Demolition is scheduled to begin in three weeks, and the old building will be gone by the time classes begin in August.

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