SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The very last graduating class of fifth graders will walk across the stage at the current Sullivan's Island Elementary School on Thursday morning. Over the next three years, the school will be torn down and rebuilt.
Duke Harkins graduated from SIE in 1977, and two of his children go there now.
"I couldn't imagine going anywhere else can't imagine my kids going anywhere else," Harkins said.
But starting next year, Harkins' kids and the rest of the students at SIE will be at Whitesides Elementary during construction.
"I wish it could be done overnight so my daughter could graduate from here," Harkins said.
This school was built 56 years ago, and Msgr. Lawrence McInerny says it's a huge part of the island community.
"The key will be to keep the community together, to keep the teachers the staff, parents at the school- with that it'll be like a family having to relocate a few years till they get back home," McInerny said.
And while the move is just a few miles away... it makes a big difference.
"Children could walk to school, ride their bikes to school, feel safe getting to and from school," McInerny said.
"Location wise on the beach, where is anything better?," Harkins said.
Harkins says he hopes to get a piece of the building as a keepsake.
"A brick or something or one of the principals old paddles," Harkins said.
For the last three weeks all 56 members of the last graduating class have created a painting as a way to capture the school they way they remember it for the next generation.
"It's the last painting that will ever be painted or token here its pretty cool," said member of the class, Drew Perry. Perry's mom Sheila started the project.
"I feel proud of my mom that she worked so hard to do it and proud of the 5th graders that helped," Perry said.
The painting will travel to Whitesides and then hang in the new school once it's built.
"Three years will seem like an eternity to kids, to the rest of us it's a blink of an eye, we look forward to having them back real soon," McInerny said.
One last look at more than 50 years on Sullivan's Island.
"It's gonna be famous," Perry said.
That painting will actually help the arts program for the next school- they're going to sell prints of it, and put the proceeds into the new program.