Published May 31. 2012 4:00AM
Stonington - For 84 years, the Borough School educated thousands of the town's children and provided memories that have lasted lifetimes.
On Sunday at the LaGrua Center, three former students will lead a free panel discussion in which they will describe the school's history and their memories of it. The event is part of the center's popular "Burrowing into the Borough" series.
The panel will include Joe Marie, who attended the school from 1931 to 1939; retired police Chief David Erskine, who was a student there from 1949 to 1956; and Rob Palmer, who attended from 1957 to 1963.
The school operated until 1973, when it was damaged in a fire and closed.
"Everyone knew one another when I went there. It was a great family atmosphere. It was just great going to the school and growing up there," Erskine said Wednesday.
The school served grades kindergarten through 12 until 1939, kindergarten through eighth grade until 1957 and kindergarten through sixth grade until 1973.
In the 1930s, as many as 800 students attended the Orchard Street School, which has since been converted into luxury condominiums, according to Erskine, who has scoured newspaper clippings, school board minutes and other documents while preparing to discuss the Borough School's history on Sunday.
"When I was going there, we had as many as 400 students and almost everyone walked to school. Almost all of the teachers lived within a mile of the school, and a big percentage of them had gone to the school when they were kids," Erskine recalled.
He said that when they were not in school, all the kids played together in the various neighborhoods and were involved in programs at the nearby Stonington Community Center.