Farmington Hills Harrison closes after 49 years

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Farmington Hill Harrison High School's doors closed forever Friday.

As the last school announcement was heard over the intercom: "Once a Hawk, always a Hawk, we love you Harrison," the tears began.

"It makes me feel so sad to know my three years as a Hawk, green and gold, everything that has encompassed who I am as a high-schooler, is going to be fading away," said Alexis Juncaj. 

"It's really sad because this school has become home to me," said Aniyah Stokes.

Harrison High School which opened in 1970, will close its doors because of declining enrollment.

"It's sad because this school has a great legacy, great educational legacy, as well as athletically," said Principal Christopher O'Brien.

Many students will move on to the two remaining high schools in the district - North Farmington and Farmington. And for those moving to their senior year, not finishing at Harrison, is heartbreaking.

"One big thing for us whether or not we'll be allowed to wear green and gold at our graduation," said Stokes. 

Students received parting gifts including a commemorative T-shirt. They're also taking remaining yearbooks.

Part of Harrison High School's pride is a rich football legacy. One former Harrison football player and coach Neil Smith (class of 1987) came back Friday to remember their record-breaking coach John Herrington.

"He was really helpful when I started coaching," Smith said. "He was always willing to help, give me anything (I needed). Not just a great football coach, a great person," Smith said.

For more than 20 years, Tim Russell has taught at Harrison.

"It's really going to hit us in the fall," Russell said. "Because we are not coming back to the place where we have been for so long. This has been my second home."

As students and staff say good-bye to Harrison High School, the building will say hello to a community center. 

"It will be a rec center, it will have theater, dance, arts, it is going to be a very nice facility for the community," O'Brien said. 

And as students leave, they said a part of Harrison High School will always be with them.

"Once a Hawk, always a Hawk, we are going to live on forever," said Juncaj.