A group of teachers, past and present, joined with administrators and students to celebrate the 6oth anniversary of Glenwood Elementary School on Friday.
The event was marked with music, memories, and a time capsule.
The kids at Glenwood Elementary sat on the gym floor and listened with great interest as Principal Darlene Ryan and others told them stories about how things were in the old days.
They heard tales of a time when there were no computer labs. When there was no air conditioning in the school. When the floor they were sitting on didn’t even exist yet.
A few retired teachers came to join the midday 60th anniversary celebration. Paul Hrusovsky, the art teacher who created many of the Glen Gator mascots that hang all around the school, recalled teaching in a classroom that used to get flooded when it rained, sometimes with two inches of water.
“I was ‘Mr. H’ when I was here, and I still run into students that I taught here, who now come to see me and they have their own children, so I think that’s great,” he said.
The birthday celebration for Glenwood Elementary – which was actually founded in 1953 – had been in the works since last summer.A committee made up of PTA members and school staff put it all together.
There was the unveiling of a commemorative quilt, to “oohs” and “ahs” from the audience. Some kids dressed in tribute to a past decade. The ones who dressed up for the 1970s and 1980s looked particularly hilarious. No surprise there.
There was a new time capsule created with some of the students’ favorite things: lyrics to the song ‘Happy,’ and a DVD of the movie ‘Frozen,’ for instance.
And they got to watch footage of themselves performing a song from every decade since the 50’s, including this one you may recall from the 60s: “Yellow Submarine.”
Dr. Carole Dolber, a music teacher at the school, helped the kids with the musical numbers.
There was a video montage of old photos, and testimonials from past students and employees.
School custodian Darrell Battle got a big round of applause from the kids when his face appeared onscreen.
“He actually does many other things besides just being a school custodian,” Ryan explained. “In the mornings, he’s out on the ‘kiss-and-go’ line, and he greets children as they get out of the cars. And he’s in the cafeteria during lunch. And he just has a great time with the students. He really has become an amazing role model for our children.”
After the celebration, Ryan sat in her office and told WCHL about some unwelcome changes coming up at the school, due to budget cuts from the state government and longtime salary freezes.
“I’m going to struggle this coming year,” she said. “I have a few teachers who are leaving us as a result of some of the things that have happened with teachers – teacher tenure, and low pay. So it has been difficult for our teachers. It’s really a huge morale issue for them. They work incredibly hard here.”
The school already lost two teachers this year, and two more are retiring soon.
Another one will leave for another job soon, and another is going on sabbatical.
“Replacing experience is always hard,” she said. “And teachers are leaving the profession because they’re going to other things that provide them with more salary and more respect.”
There’s a saying at Glenwood: Once a Gator, always a Gator. Ryan said there’s a tight-knit community of parents around the school that gives her hope for the future.
“They have provided us with supplies and resources this year, with the many cuts in the budget” Ryan said. “They are always there for us. And so we are very fortunate here to have a community that volunteers in the classroom and just does all the little things that we need to have happen in the school.”
And, of course, her little Gators give her hope too.