Las Vegas Sun

October 26, 2014

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Last bell rings for Paradise

A staff member at Paradise Elementary School removed a school slogan, Paradise Stars in Bloom, from the bulletin board in the entry way.

Computers were wheeled down the hallway to be packed into boxes.

At Paradise Elementary, Thursday was the last day of school -- and not just for this year. After 75 years on the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Swenson Street, Paradise Elementary School will be transformed into UNLV's new law library.

"It takes a lot of work," Susan May, the school's librarian, said. "Every book, computer, pencil and eraser has to leave this school. Even the pencil sharpeners are coming off the walls."

"There's a lot of sentiment, a lot of emotion because this is the last time they will ever be in this building," May said.

In August the students at Paradise Elementary will attend Paradise Professional School, a lab school under construction on the north end of the UNLV campus.

Tom Flagg, spokesman for UNLV, said the new elementary school is a three-way agreement between UNLV, the Clark County School District and McCarran International Airport. McCarran purchased the Paradise Elementary property for $7.5 million. UNLV has provided the land for the new school, and the school district is building the school with funds from the sale of the property to the airport.

Flagg said the lab school provides an opportunity for research and education of at-risk students for the UNLV faculty and students.

A professional development building adjacent to the new school will include a seminar room, computer lab, classroom and office space.

UNLV has a preschool on campus, but this is the first time a school will be on campus as part of UNLV's College of Education.

Lore Carrillo, assistant principal of Paradise Elementary, said the new school will house 500-plus students, in addition to 300 students from Ruby Thomas, Jean Ward and Jack Davis schools.

Carrillo said the new Paradise will be on a five-track, year-round schedule.

"They had to close the school for me to leave," Mildred Whitehead said. She is a first- and second-grade teacher who has been teaching at the school for 22 1 /2 years.

"I've been crying for a week and a half," she said as she stood with her hands on a student's shoulder. "The kids are what I've stayed here for all these years. I'm very sad -- very, very sad."

Whitehead will move to a school closer to her home.

"What a day -- too many kids were crying, then I cried," Kay Cromeenes, the registrar and clerk, said. She has been with the school for 20 years, starting as an assistant in a classroom.

"My three daughters and granddaughter all went to this school," she said.

Cromeenes said they've known for a long time that the airport has been interested in buying the school building.

Adam Mayberry, spokesperson for the Clark County Department of Aviation, said the school, because of its age, is not soundproofed for air traffic.

"It was really in the best interest for everybody," he said. "It's a bottleneck for slow traffic, it's too close to the airport and too loud for a school."

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