Former teachers, students recall Julian Newman as 'The best elementary school ever'

May 23—As this school year comes to a close, so will the doors of the current Julian Newman Elementary School. Much of the school building will be gone soon, as rebuilding of the school will get under way. JNES will temporarily be housed at the former Athens Middle School building on Clinton Street as their new school is being built.

A get-together was held May 18, at JNES with former and current teachers and staff of the school. Many of the teachers and staff were once students at the school. They visited, walked the halls and their former classrooms and remembered the many cherished moments.

Julian Newman Elementary School opened in 1964 and was named after the former Athens City School Superintendent, Julian Newman Sr. His daughter-in-law, Betty Dean Newman, taught at the school when it opened and attended the reception with her daughter Nancy.

Caulyne Hayden and her daughter, Synthia Howell, were among those in attendance. Hayden taught for 38 years with 25 of them being at JNES. For 14 of those years, she taught alongside her daughter, who has taught kindergarten at JNES for 40 years.

Walls near the school office recently became a place where current and former teachers, students, and staff could share messages and fond memories of the school. 2023 Athens High School graduates recently returned to JNES for the Senior Legacy Walk and left their remembrances.

"Every new beginning comes from other beginnings' end! Farwell," Deborah Cox Suggs and Beverly Cox Keyton wrote.

Retired art teacher Gene Keith pushed his art cart up and down the halls of Julian Newman for 34 years. Fittingly, he left a drawing on the wall — an owl saying "Owls say Hoo." He followed with "I say 'Who.' I am Gene Keith, art teacher for 34 years. I now say 'Thank You' to all my students and their teachers for 34 wonderful years."

Some chose to remember former teachers who have passed away.

"In memory of — Mammie Neese, Gwen McClure, Betty Croomes," one message read.

Of the many messages left, most said simply, "The best elementary school ever."