Wal­ter J. Mitchell Ele­men­tary cel­e­brates 50 years

Semi­cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion fea­tures open­ing of time cap­sule

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

In 1966, Lyndon B. John­son was pres­i­dent, John Len­non said the Bea­tles were more pop­u­lar than Je­sus, the Gem­ini 10 manned space­craft launched, a gal­lon of gas cost ap­prox­i­mately 32 cents — and Wal­ter J. Mitchell Ele­men­tary School opened its doors to wel­come its first stu­dents.

Past and cur­rent stu­dents, par­ents, teach­ers, staff and ad­min­is­tra­tors turned out Satur­day af­ter­noon to cel­e­brate the school’s semi­cen­ten­nial.

“Our school has a long-stand­ing legacy for aca­demic ex­cel­lence and a strong sense of com­mu­nity that is un­par­al­leled,” said eighth and cur­rent Mitchell prin­ci­pal Sab­rina Robin­son-Tay­lor dur­ing open­ing re­marks.

Todd Won­der­ling said that when he came to Mitchell as a new vice prin­ci­pal, he was warmly wel­comed by the school com­mu­nity.

“Once you’re part of the Mitchell fam­ily, you’re a Bull­dog for life,” Won­der­ling said, re­fer­ring to the school’s mas­cot. “We are all work­ing to­gether to con­tinue the 50 years of ex­cel­lence here at Wal­ter J. Mitchell.”

Hugh Mitchell Jr. said it was an honor to be a part of the 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of the school named af­ter his grand­fa­ther, which his own chil­dren and grand­chil­dren at­tended.

Wal­ter J. Mitchell was a Charles County busi­ness­man and ed­i­tor of the Times-Cres­cent news­pa­per, who served as a mem­ber of the Mary­land Se­nate from 1917 to 1934, and as a judge of the 7th Ju­di­cial District and as­so­ciate judge of the Mary­land Court of Ap­peals from 1934 un­til his re­tire­ment in 1941, Hugh Mitchell said. His grand­fa­ther worked to pass leg­is­la­tion au­tho­riz­ing the first pub­lic high schools in the county.

“May this school en­joy many more years of ed­u­ca­tion for our chil­dren to en­joy,” Hugh Mitchell said.

For­mer teacher Jimmy “Mr. Mitch” Mor­ton re­flected on his 37 years at the school. Mor­ton was a teacher at Mitchell from 1972 un­til his re­tire­ment in 2009.

“I al­ways loved teach­ing here at Wal­ter J. Mitchell,” Mor­ton said. “We’re a fam­ily, a fam­ily that al­ways comes to­gether, in the good times and the bad times. The par­ents al­ways sup­ported our teach­ers, and it’s an awe­some force in our com­mu­nity.

“It was very hard for me to make the de­ci­sion to re­tire,” Mor­ton added, “but af­ter 37 years at the same school, I felt it was time for me to move on.”

Ad­dress­ing the crowd of sev­eral hun­dred in­di­vid­u­als, Adri­anne Jennings, who served as prin­ci­pal at Mitchell from 1989 to 1995, said it was the largest birth­day or an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion she had ever at­tended.

“It’s just a won­der­ful place to be as a staff mem­ber and as a stu­dent,” Jennings said. “I feel very hon­ored to have been a part of Mitchell’s his­tory.”

Also part of the semi­cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion

was the open­ing of the school’s time cap­sule, filled with me­men­tos from 1966, in­clud­ing news­pa­per ar­ti­cles about the school’s open­ing, coinage minted that year, writ­ten speeches from the ded­i­ca­tion and a cigar made with Charles County to­bacco.

The time cap­sule was last opened in 1996, at the school’s 30th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, and a school year­book and other items were added to the time cap­sule at that time.

Items from the time cap­sule were on dis­play in the school’s B Pod. Stu­dents from each grade sang songs from the 1960s to the present, one for each decade in which Mitchell has been in op­er­a­tion. There was also a rap­tor demon­stra­tion, vis­its to class­rooms, food and other events in­side the school fol­low­ing the pro­gram.


Angie MacKay, Wal­ter J. Mitchell 50th An­niver­sary pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor, left, speaks while the mistress and mas­ter of cer­e­monies, Mitchell fifth graders Kate Pen­der­gist and Pa­trick Her­nan­dez, hold up the school’s time cap­sule, which was opened for the sec­ond time in the school’s his­tory.


Jimmy “Mr. Mitch” Mor­ton, who taught at Wal­ter J. Mitchell Ele­men­tary School from 1972 to 2009, spoke dur­ing the school’s 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion Satur­day.

Wal­ter J. Mitchell 50th An­niver­sary or­ga­nizer Angie MacKay, right, holds the mi­cro­phone for Hugh M. Mitchell Jr., grand­son of Wal­ter J. Mitchell, for whom the school was named, dur­ing an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions Satur­day.

At­ten­dees watch as the La Plata JROTC per­form the Pre­sen­ta­tion of Colors at Wal­ter J. Mitchell Ele­men­tary School’s 50th an­niver­sary.

Cur­rent Wal­ter J. Mitchell Ele­men­tary School Prin­ci­pal Sab­rina Robin­son-Tay­lor and Vice Prin­ci­pal Todd Won­der­ling spoke at the school’s 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion.


The Nov. 10, 1966, is­sue of the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent, with an ar­ti­cle about the ded­i­ca­tion of the new Wal­ter J. Mitchell Ele­men­tary School. The ar­ti­cle was one of many con­tents of the school’s time cap­sule, which was opened as part of its 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion Satur­day.

Books from 1966 on teach­ing sci­ence and math­e­mat­ics, part of the con­tents of the Wal­ter J. Mitchell Ele­men­tary School time cap­sule, which was opened as part of 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions Satur­day.

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