The children came for the last day of school - some with nostalgia and heartbreak over the planned closure of seven campuses in the Sacramento City Unified School District.
"This is where a lot of memories come from," said 12-year-old Angel Torres, who this morning embarked on his final day of attendance at Maple Elementary School in south Sacramento. "I made my first friends here."
As a sixth grader, he's leaving the campus for good, no matter what. But he still was sad.
His two brothers, now teenagers, also attended Maple Elementary. Both came back later as campus volunteers. A niece and two nephews also attended the school, which was built in 1952 and annexed to the district in 1958.
All of the district's 80 schools end the year today. Fifty-six of them serve elementary school students.
But the district plans to shutter seven of the elementary schools for good: Maple, Washington, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire. The closures will save the district about $1.1 million and help close a $5.6 million shortfall projected for the next school year.
In the fall, about 2,300 students will attend other campuses, many of them more distant for their homes. At Maple, parents, children and workers said they were saddened by the closing.
Just a few blocks south stands the aging Campbell Soup plant, where the last of 700 jobs are to be phased out by July 1.
Some parents and workers worried aloud what the effects will be on the neighborhood with the school also closed.
"I have been here since the spring of 2002," said Karen Sasamoto, whose part-time job in the library ends after today. "This neighborhood is going to be hammered" by the dual closures of soup plant and school, she said.
"I live on this street," said Angel's mother, Martha Torres. "The neighborhood kids come here to play in the afternoon, basketball and soccer. I feel very sad."
In a last-ditch effort, a dozen students and their parents filed a lawsuit Monday asking the Sacramento-based U.S. District Court to stop Sacramento City Unified from closing schools. They allege that the district illegally targeted schools in neighborhoods with high concentrations of minority and low-income students who lack the political power of families in more affluent areas.