Banker and lifelong Cobb resident Joe Daniell, whose father was on the board of trustees when Mableton was in its own school district in the 1950s, said one of his favorite memories of the school was the donkey basketball games they used to play in the gymnasium.
"They'd put rubber shoes on the donkeys, and we rode them and shot baskets," Daniell said.
Daniell graduated from Mableton in 1954, when it went up to seventh grade. He went to South Cobb High School, which was new at the time, for grades 8 through 12.
"That was a big jump. We went to high school in eighth grade," said Ray Barnes, who graduated from Mableton in 1952. Barnes also recalled donkey basketball as well as wheelchair basketball games.
Daniell said he and Ray Barnes were in the first band at Mableton when it started in 1951. Daniell's wife, Glenda, also graduated from Mableton in 1962, the same year as former Gov. Roy Barnes, Ray Barnes' brother.
Roy Barnes recalled a time when he and a friend overloaded the school's furnace.
"We used to have coal furnace heat," Roy Barnes said. "One morning we decided we would shovel so much coal into the chute and it got so hot in here that they thought the school was going to blow up. And we both got whipped for it."
Longtime Cobb County educator Tony Melton, who also graduated from Mableton in 1962 when it went through eighth grade, said the things he missed most about the school were the smells of chalk dust and the compound they used to use to clean the floors.
"I was in Ms. Fawler's fifth-grade class, and ... we used to have spelling bees. And the losing team had to treat the winning team to a Coke down at the Little Store," Melton said, referring to a convenience store that used to stand on the corner of Church Street just down the road from the school. "It was a great motivator. You didn't want to lose and we learned a lot about spelling."
Mableton Principal Kym Eisgruber said Monday wasn't the last time alumni and students will have to say goodbye to Mableton. The school is planning a Remember Mableton Celebration for April 28, 2012. Eisgruber is helping to organize the celebration along with Daniell and Barber.
Although Eisgruber is looking forward to the new Mableton, she said it will be bittersweet.
"We're excited to have a new school because there are some new things that we need," she said, but "there's something about this school; it's home."
Built in 1952, Mableton Elementary replaced Mableton High School, which burned to the ground in October 1948. Mableton is home to 450 students and has graduated distinguished Cobb Countians such as Roy Barnes, Ray Barnes, the Rev. Eddie Barton of Concord Baptist Church, Eddy Barber, former president of the South Cobb Development Authority, Daniell, Maj. Gen. William Nesbitt and Melton.
A Mableton replacement school is being constructed behind the school. The current building will house students for one last school year and is set for demolition in June 2012. The new $22 million school, which will have a capacity for 926 students, will open its doors in fall 2012.