Was it the Coke/ice cream floats or the crowd of former students and teachers?
Even for someone who didn’t attend Bungalow Elementary School or it’s second incarnation as Pellissippi State Community College, April 26 felt like a giant class reunion.
There was plenty of laughter and hugs as students and teachers shared stories with relatives, and old friends suddenly recognized one another after being apart for years.
Pellissippi State hosted a special “Goodbye Bungalow” gathering that brought together those who were students on the campus when it was an elementary school and since it has been the college’s Blount County campus.
Glenda Taylor-Davis, former assistant dean, taught math there 10 years and served as assistant dean from 2000 to 2003. “This is a great day for Blount County and Pellissippi State. The big thing is they’ll be able to do nursing degrees,” she said. “I heard about today, and I had to come. I always hoped for a new campus for the students of Blount County because they deserve the very best.”
The college is vacating the property this year, when the new Blount County Campus opens for classes in August. Located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Friendsville, the new $22 million state-of-the-art campus has been in the works since May 2008. With more than 1,800 Blount County residents enrolled, the school can better support the education of Blount Countians with the expanded campus, say college officials.
Bidding farewell to its current site is a significant step toward opening the new doors that await, said Pellissippi State president Allen G. Edwards.
“We are so grateful to the residents of Blount County,” said Edwards. “Since we began offering classes in Blount County in 1985, the interest in and support of Pellissippi State has been phenomenal.
“With ‘Goodbye Bungalow,’ we want to thank the community for the warm welcome they’ve given us continually over the years. Our history here is coming to a close, and this is a good way to end.”
Starting with only about 100 students per semester in Blount County in 1985, Pellissippi State has expanded from offering a few evening classes in high schools to the current construction of new facilities and the introduction of new programs such as the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. The Nursing program begins in August at both the Blount County Campus and the Magnolia Avenue Campus.
Terry Thomas graduated Bungalow School in 1964 and he recalled how tough but good the teachers were. “Ms. Sarah Cross was my teacher in seventh and eighth grades and when I went college, I did what she taught me, and I made straight A’s because I had enough sense to do the work,” he said.
Herman Ingram graduated in 1965 and his parents owned what is now the Bungalow Market. “My daddy ran the grocery store, and we went there in the afternoon and ate penny candy,” he said.
Ingram said teachers at the school were strict. “They taught character and strength,” he said.
Blount County Fire Capt. Tim Ogle graduated Bungalow School in 1977 when the school was first through eighth grade. He said the students learned values. “You learned to respect your elders and be a gentleman,” he said.
Ernie Howard graduated Bungalow in 1975 and said he liked that it was a community school. He said he will miss the building. “It’s a landmark. If they tear it down, I’m going to miss it,” he said.
Pellissippi State student Becky Boatman of Blount County said the new campus will mean less travel time for her. Michael Parkinson of Maryville agreed. “It makes a tremendous difference. You spend so much time traveling. Now you have more time for family,” he said.
Parkinson said the Bungalow School building is old but it has character.
Holly Burkett, assistant dean of the Blount County campus of Pellissippi State Community College said staff, students and the community have waited a long time to say goodbye to Bungalow School and move to Blount’s new Pellissippi State Community College campus. “I’ve been here a year and a half and just the devotion that faculty, staff and students have for this campus is amazing,” she said.