Former students—young and old—gathered at Fred J. Stackpole Elementary to bid farewell to the school at a reception on Wednesday night.
Classrooms were decorated with bulletin boards of messages from current students, while the main entrance had a board for all guests to sign and share memories of the school. One student wrote "I am so sad" on the board, which was the sentiment among many of the former students.
Kim Torok, who was a student at Stackpole in the '80s, said that she is sad the school is closing. She and her husband both attended the school during their childhood and they came back to the area so their children could have a similar experience.
"We moved here for the small school atmosphere so our kids could go here," Torok said. The Torok's daughter, Emma, is currently in first grade at Stackpole.
Torok said Emma isn't too upset about having to change schools, but that she and her husband, Scott, are bummed. As the couple looked through photos from the past, they reminisced about their favorite Stackpole memory: Balloon Day.
On Balloon Day, students were given a balloon with their name and school tied to it then they would release it in the sky, Scott Torok explained. The note tied to the balloon asked the finder to contact the school so that the balloon could be tracked down. Whoever's name was on the balloon that was found the farthest away would win a prize. Torok said that one year his balloon was found somewhere in New Jersey, and he won the prize.
Because of environmental hazards the students no longer participate in Balloon Day, so Emma Torok never had the chance to experience it first hand. Luckily, she has her parents to share their stories.
Another former student, Laura Schuck, said that she is also sad that the school is closing its doors. Schuck, who is now 22, said that she and her sister and even her mother went to school at Stackpole.
"It hasn't changed a bit," Schuck said. "That's why it's so sad."
She and her mother talked about their favorite times at Stackpole. Schuck said that celebrating the school's 35th Anniversary was her fondest memory.
All of the students gathered to form a giant 35 for a photo, but the way the photo was snapped the numbers looked backwards like an "S" and "E," according to Schuck.
"But I said it stood for Stackpole Elementary," Schuck said. "So it worked out anyway."
Her mother laughed and said, "well how about the time that Mrs. Greene road the horse?"
"I completely forgot about that," Schuck said.
One year, students were challenged to read a certain amount of books, Schuck and her mother explained. If they met the goal, the principal—Mrs. Greene—said she would ride a horse in the lawn behind the school. The students met their goal and the principal rode a horse as promised. And a photo capturing her on horseback made its way into a book honoring Greene's retirement.
In addition to photos and memorabilia displayed on tables in the gym, the Stackpole community could visit the library to see memories preserved in a time capsule from 1990.
Nintendo games, newspaper clippings, VCR tapes, candy and more were brought out of hiding from the time capsule. A third grade class wrote autobiographies for the capsule about what they hoped to achieve by 2015.
One student, Kristin G. wrote that she wanted to be a teacher by that time. She would be 32 years old. A teacher who was observing the table said that she knew for fact that Kristin G. achieved her goal and is currently a teacher.
"I guess she really did want to be a teacher after all," she said.
The time capsule had to be opened early, since the school will shut its doors for good at the end of this academic year as part of a plan to reduce the number of elementary schools within Centennial School district. Next school year students will attend the new Davis Elementary School on Maple Avenue.
The farewell event was an opportunity for the Stackpole community to reminisce about time spent at the school. Former students and teachers who weren't able to attend the event can share their memories in the comment section of this article.