Echoes of education lost, Little Milligan to be closed

Published 1:12 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

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By C.Y. Peters

In the quiet hills of Carter County, Tennessee, where generations had gathered to learn, another chapter closed with the solemn finality of a funeral dirge. The vote had come in, the decision made, and the Little Milligan School, a beacon of education for so many, was to shutter its doors. It was a decision met with heavy hearts, especially for those who had already weathered the storm of school closures in the county.

The echoes of past closures reverberated through the memories of the community like ghostly whispers. Just a year prior, Keenburg School had met the same fate, leaving behind a void that seemed to grow with each passing day. For the younger children, it meant long bus rides, their 6th through 8th grades already stripped away the year before. The loss was palpable, a tangible weight on the shoulders of those who had called these halls home.

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Little Milligan’s closure was not an isolated event but rather a thread in the tapestry of loss that Carter County had woven over the years. Range School, with its roots stretching back to 1843, had succumbed to the passage of time in 2013. Southside School had followed suit in 1990, and Midway in 1987, each leaving behind a legacy that felt increasingly fragile as the years wore on.

Memories mingled with the dust of abandoned classrooms, recalling moments of triumph and camaraderie. The Midway Rebels’ victory in the Elementary Basketball State Tournament of 1985, a beacon of pride in a sea of change. Yet, even such triumphs were overshadowed by the inevitability of progress, leaving behind only the hollow shell of what once was.

The closure of Tiger Valley School in 1966 had marked the beginning of an era of decline, its weathered walls now standing as a testament to a bygone time. And as each school fell, their fate sealed by the passage of time and the shifting tides of progress, the community was left to mourn the loss of yet another piece of its identity.

But amid the sorrow, there were glimmers of resilience. Gap Creek School, in its final year in 1978, had found new life as a community building, a beacon of hope in the face of adversity. Its halls echoed with the laughter of children once more, a testament to the enduring spirit of a community determined to persevere.

And so, as Little Milligan School joined the ranks of its fallen brethren, its halls will now be silent and its classrooms empty, the community rallied once more. Though the loss was great, they would carry on, their memories a beacon of light in the darkness, guiding them through the uncertain days ahead. For in the heart of Carter County, the spirit of education would never truly die, even as the last school bell tolls.