East End Elementary School closing after final preschool graduation Thursday night


After 95 years, East End Elementary School has closed its doors as a Wilmington City Schools elementary school.

It was decided at a Wilmington City Schools Board of Education meeting on Jan. 18 the building would be closed at the end of the current school year. The plan was announced to later sell the building.

In a News Journal report, Supt. Jim Brady confirmed the main reason the school was being shut down was to save money. Brady said the upkeep for the building is too much when “we’re trying to remain fiscally responsible.”

According to a release from Wilmington City Schools, the district would save “approximately $100,000 annually in operational costs” by closing East End.

“East End has been a wonderful place for the preschool team to call home for many years,” said Jamie Bryant, East End administrator. “Whether we were with K-5, just 5th grade, or only preschool, we appreciated the time spent at this school. So many parents who enter the building for evaluations for their children have memories of attending here themselves or, like in my case, having all three of my own children attend preschool here. We are fortunate to have a wonderful team who is continuing to grow and know that wherever we are, our students are in great hands.”

East End opened its doors in 1929 and, according to a News Journal article from Aug. 30, 1929, was said to be “one of the most modern in entire state.”

Plans were made to open the school after the Thanksgiving break in fall of 1929 but inclement weather delayed the opening and students began classes in January of 1930.

The school started with six rooms, an auditorium, two recreation rooms, a furnace room and a coal room. Since the school opened, it has undergone several upgrades and expansions. Some of those were in the 1952 school year when new classrooms and multi-purpose rooms were added.

It was reported in February 1991, the current layout and expansion added a new wing and other improvements to East End. Students for the 1993-94 school year were welcomed with new classrooms, a new gymnasium and a new kitchen when they started their school year.

Mrs. Ethel Simmons was selected as the first principal of East End Elementary. Ms. Jennifer Martin was the most recent principal until the 2019-2020 school year when the district transitioned to grade-level centers and East End was used for the preschool program.

When asked about her time at East End, Martin said, “Reflecting on my time at East End, I am reminded of its unique family feel and close-knit community. It was a place where students and staff came together, creating an environment that fostered growth and connection.”

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