PORTLAND – The Portland community said goodbye to more than a century of history at Nathan Clifford Elementary School on Sunday.

Students will be ushered into the new Ocean Avenue Elementary School on Feb. 28, after school vacation. The last day of classes at Clifford will be Thursday.

“I’m going to miss this school,” said third-grader Livia Serappa, one of hundreds of students, parents and staff who attended a farewell open house at Clifford. “And I’m really excited about the new school.”

Convincing the community to close the 104-year-old K-5 school wasn’t easy. Many are still attached to it.

But, ultimately, passing up $14.2 million in state funds to build a new school was not an option.

Ocean Avenue, built on the site of the former Baxter Elementary School, will initially house all 314 students from Clifford. In the fall, students from other elementary schools who live in neighborhoods formerly served by Baxter will come over as well.

“Young students are incredibly resilient,” said Superintendent Jim Morse, who attended the open house. “The younger the youngster, the easier it is to say goodbye.”

The Ocean Avenue school, which can fit about 440 students, was completed several months ahead of schedule and $5.4 million under budget. It was originally expected to cost $20.2 million.

The new school provides students with a much better learning environment, Morse said. Inside, the decor features a nature theme, with colors and designs that reflect the ocean, mountains, forests and agriculture.

“The new building is very exciting,” Morse said. “It’s designed for 21st-century learning. It’s just a really wonderful building.”

Clifford, on the other had, was outdated and needed to be replaced, school officials said. The bathrooms were in the basement, along with an inadequate gymnasium and cafeteria. And there were no lockers.

Regardless, some parents, like Jay Baker, who also once attended the Clifford school, are upset the school is closing, “because it’s our school and our neighborhood,” he said.

City Councilor Edward Sus-lovic called it a “cathedral of learning” that will be missed.

“The neighborhood was very sad,” he said. “Clearly, there is a strong emotional attachment.”

He said the city hopes to turn Clifford into a science and technology training center for teachers.

The students won’t soon forget Clifford.

Andrew Stoddard, a fifth-grader, will wrap up the last few months of his elementary education at Ocean Avenue. He said he would miss the egg-drop competition they had at Clifford every year. He won a few years ago, when he used a tissue box packed with cotton balls and a parachute that kept the egg from breaking when it was tossed from the school’s rooftop.

Other memories weren’t so fond.

Patricia Nickerson, a student from the 1940s, recalled one stern teacher who would punish kids by making them sit on top of a garbage can under their desk. She made other kids stay late after school.

“Back then, it was a lot different,” she said. “I remember my mother dragging me to school one day in the second grade, because I was so nervous. I was petrified.”

Her sister, Lillian Murphy, remembers walking four miles back and forth from school.

“We are going to miss the school. It has a lot of charm,” said Principal Beverly Coursey, who has a fireplace in her Clifford office. “But we’re also very lucky to go to the new school.”