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Community Gathers to Say Goodbye to Westbrook

West Islip elementary school will close next week after 50 years of service.

Hundreds of alumni, families, students and other members of the West Islip community gathered on the field of Thursday evening to wish the school farewell.

Westbrook, along with , will close next week. The West Islip Board of Education as a method of cutting costs and dealing with declining enrollment.

Following the announcement o a "very difficult" and "emotional" one.

Thursday's event, called "", sold out its more than 900 tickets and included food, music a movie and a nostalgic photo slide show of memories at Westbrook.

Judith Schwartz, a kindergarten teacher at Westbrook for six years who has been with the district for 27 years and co-organized the farewell event, said, "We were pretty much devastated [by the closure]," Newsday reported.

Other members of the community, as well as school faculty, mourned the loss.

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"It's sad," Dana Basile, a West Islip resident and Westbrook alumnus told Newsday. "I don't really agree with it. I think they could have come up with an alternative. . . I'm not an accountant, but it's not always about money, it's about the kids." Basile's son John attends Westbrook as a second grader, according to Newsday.

Westbrook Principal Jack Maniscalco called the closure "heartbreaking," the paper said.

"I'm not happy about it, but it had to be done," said Chris Rummo, 41, a Westbrook parent whose son would have attended fifth grade at the school next year, told Newsday. 

The paper also spoke with Pat Rich, who moved to West Islip in 1967 in a house next to Westbrook, and watched as the school was built. Rich, a 28-year member of the Parent teacher Association, sent two generations of her family to the school.

"I remember watching the first field day from my backyard," Rich, 76, told Newsday. "And the other day, we had the last one."

Read the full report here.

Did you attend Thursday's event? Share your photos with the community by uploading them to this story or email them to Editor Kaitlyn Piccoli at kaitlyn.piccoli@patch.com.

Serena Leonard June 18, 2012 at 01:19 PM
This was a really nice event. Thank you to all who helped put this together. Westbrook will truly be missed.

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