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Sunday, April 5, 2009

* Area elementaries planning 50-year celebrations

The academic school year of 1958-59 brings back fond memories for both Denzil Adams and Kenny Crabb.

In 1958-59, both became principals at new schools located in Clay County, as Adams became principal at East Side and Crabb at Meridian.

"It seems like it was only yesterday," Adams told The Brazil Times recently. "The thing that stands out in my mind is that we were expecting 360-365 students and 406 showed up.

Both East Side Elementary (above) and Meridian Elementary schools will be celebrating 50 years of service later this school year. [Order this photo]
"After about two weeks, they altered the districts a little bit and transferred some of them to Meridian."

"I opened the building when it was brand new," Crabb said, reflecting on his time at Meridian. "I enjoyed it very much. I was there for eight years. It was a great time, but it was the largest situation I had."

Prior to 1958, Crabb had served as principal at Jackson Street Elementary School, where he also taught sixth-grade.

Likewise, Adams was principal at Pinckley Street Elementary, where he also taught half of the day.

Adams said when East Side opened, students from Alabama and Zeller elementaries made up the new school, while Crabb said students from Jackson and Meridian Street elementaries attended the new Meridian school.

East Side Elementary School has tentatively scheduled to celebrate 50 years of existence May 1. [Order this photo]
In addition, both put their heads together, along with their head cooks, to create one lunch menu for both schools. At the time, Meridian and East Side were the only schools to have cafeterias.

"The four of us would sit down and do it," Crabb said.

"That was a real new experience," Adams added.

In a little more than a month, the two former educators will get to relive some of those memories as 50 years later, these two schools have planned celebrations marking a half-century of service in the community.

Both schools are in the planning stages for the celebrations, which are scheduled to take place in May.

East Side Principal Mary Ray, who has been in her position since 1992, said the school's Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has scheduled a carnival and car show for May 1, from 6-8 p.m.

A statute reminder of Meridian Street School still stands by the current Meridian structure. [Order this photo]
Although East Side's celebration is in its infant stage, Ray said anyone who has suggestions is welcome to call the school at 448-8755.

"We've talked about trying to do something at the carnival," Ray said.

She added a time capsule that was buried on school grounds several years ago might be unearthed at the event.

Adams is the only other principal the school has known, serving from 1958-92.

Current Meridian Elementary Principal Karen Phillips, who has been in her position for 15 years, said school officials and teachers have been planning their celebration.

Prior to Phillips coming to Meridian, the school has had only two other principals, including Crabb and Mauri Modesitt.

The birthday party is scheduled for May 11-15.

Kindergarten Instructional Assistant Susie Howard, who has been at Meridian for 31 years, is also helping set up the celebration.

"I knew it had to be done," Howard said.

Students will kick off the event in an assembly and will sing Happy Birthday for the school while enjoying a birthday cupcake.

The students will also be involved in a 50's-style sock hop, door decorating contest, picnic, 50 physical education activities, dances that reflect the 1950's, a writing activity to share memorable moments at the school and drawings of the past, present and future of the school.

In addition, Phillips said students would have a birthday hat contest.

"The staff is planning everything," she said.

According to Phillips, a special reception is being planned for retirees and alumni at the school, tentatively set for Friday, May 15, at 3 p.m. All retirees and alumni are invited to attend and, as part of the celebration, school officials are encouraging all alumni and past staff to bring any written recollections, photos and memorabilia to share.

A time capsule was also buried many years ago at Meridian as well and it will be dug up and shared with students and all that attend the Friday, May 15 event.

Phillips said invitations would be mailed to retired staff members.

Those planning to attend the celebration are asked to RSVP to the school by calling 448-8560, Ext. 2600, by May 1.

Adams said his recollection of time spent at East Side gives him plenty of reason to want to attend a celebration.

"I have many, many fond memories," Adams said of his time at East Side.

Crabb echoed Adams' sentiments, and added he was unaware it had been 50 years.

"I never even gave it a thought," Crabb said. "That's going to be something."

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In the first grade, I attended Jackson Street School. Can you imagine how excited I was to have Mr. Crabb move to Meridian Street School with me my second year? He is such a wonderful man. Mr. Adams, whom I did not know as well but grew to know in my later years, is also a great person. To have these two Christian men leading our schools was a true blessing.

God bless them both, along with their families...

-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Mon, Apr 6, 2009, at 6:49 AM

WOW, it is funny what you can find out reading the Brazil Times instead of asking school corporation officials. One of the first things I asked when I became involved with the school building project was the ages of our buildings. Of course, I received no answer.

The article makes it clear that every school in the county is either a replacement for or a consolidation of previous schools.

The Superintendant stated at a meeting of the School Property Tax Control Board last November that he hoped to get forty more years of use out of Clay City Elementary, the former Clay City High School that I graduated from in 1973. How much longer does he plan for us to use these two buildings and what does it cost us.

It is going to cost us $11 million dollars to renovate as planned, but that plan is expected to be revised upwards. The revision is necessary because the figures used in planning were the current, as of 2007, enrollment figures instead of a planned enrollment capacity derived by adding current enrollment to the expected increase forecast by the feasibility report.

It would cost less than $16 million to replace both of these buildings with one new building with the capacity to hold 100 more students than are currently attending them, a brand-new building built from the ground up with the latest technology in place instead of as an afterthought.

These facts, coupled with the fact that all of our current elementary school buildings were built over a eleven-year period, also lead to the conclusion that, by not building now, we leave a future generation to replace all of these buildings within a couple of decades.

To continue to operate small elementary schools is costing us money that could be spent actually educating students. The opinion that we must because the education is better or the demographics of the students require the operation of schools this size is blown away by looking no further than Owen and Greene counties, both of which operate elementary schools of close to 700 students with about the same percentage of free lunch students. A little research into the Indiana Department of Education website will reveal that schools throughout the spectrum of factors vary considerable in their performance indicators, showing that the building or its size is not as important than what happens inside it.

In short, to continue to operate these schools even with the stir caused by proponents of doing so instead of building a replacement is sheer folly on the part of the school corporation!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Mon, Apr 6, 2009, at 2:34 PM

sheer folly

I love your word usage Leo. You must have a good Thesarus!

-- Posted by sassypants on Tue, Apr 7, 2009, at 1:14 PM

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