Jenifer El­e­men­tary cel­e­brates 30 years

Wal­dorf school opened in 1987 with 627 stu­dents

Maryland Independent - - News - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

In 1987, a gal­lon of gas cost about 89 cents, the an­i­mated fam­ily “The Simp­sons” first ap­peared on the “Tracy Ull­man Show,” pop singer Michael Jack­son re­leased “Bad” — and the el­e­men­tary school with the long­est name in Charles County opened its doors to 627 new stu­dents.

On Thurs­day, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer El­e­men­tary School cel­e­brated its 30th an­niver­sary and the unique com­mu­nity which has grown up around the school with mu­sic, rem­i­nis­cences from past and present staff and a his­tory les­son on the school’s name­sake.

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, the son of Dr. Daniel Jenifer, was a colo­nial landowner in Charles County who served as a del­e­gate to the Con­ti­nen­tal Congress and was pres­i­dent of Mary­land’s first se­nate dur­ing the Revo­lu­tion­ary War; fol­low­ing the war, he was a del­e­gate to the Con­sti­tu­tional Con­ven­tion of 1787.

“He was a friend of Wash­ing­ton, he was a friend of Madi­son,” said Kevin Grote, a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety for the Restora­tion of Port To­bacco. “He was one of the 39 sign­ers of the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Al­most 200 years af­ter Jenifer’s death, a Wal­dorf el­e­men­tary school opened bear­ing his name. Since that time, more than 19,155 stu­dents have passed through its halls, earn­ing the so­bri­quet “Pa­tri­ots” af­ter the school’s mas­cot.

“Ev­ery day, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer pro­vides stu­dents with an aca­dem­i­cally chal­leng­ing, qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion that builds char­ac­ter and lead­er­ship,” said Vice Prin­ci­pal Mike Hoff­man. “At Jenifer El­e­men­tary School, we truly be­lieve that ev­ery stu­dent can be the best he or she can be.”

Anna Lan­caster, a for­mer stu­dent at Jenifer, is now a third grade teacher at the school. She at­tended Jenifer while her mother was an art teacher there, com­plet­ing kinder­garten through fifth grade at the school.

“As a stu­dent here, I made many life­long friends, some of whom are now doc­tors, nurses, U.S. Air Force cap­tains and even fel­low ed­u­ca­tors,” Lan­caster said. “As a cur­rent ed­u­ca­tor, I en­joy mak­ing new mem­o­ries with my stu­dents at Jenifer El­e­men­tary and cher­ish­ing those that I make with other stu­dents.”

Tha­dine Wright served as vice prin­ci­pal and prin­ci­pal of Jenifer El­e­men­tary from 2006 to 2011. She said that as a be­gin­ning prin­ci­pal, she learned many lessons in her first few years. Wright said she learned it was im­por­tant to re­spect the lead­ers who came be­fore her and con­sider the im­pact of her de­ci­sions on the lead­ers who would come af­ter.

“I also learned the very im­por­tant fact that you need to re­spect the his­tory and tra­di­tions of a school,” Wright said. “I learned that very quickly here.”

She also learned the value of the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity. “Jenifer El­e­men­tary is this nice, del­i­cate pocket in Wal­dorf. No one knows we’re here, and so the com­mu­nity is very im­por­tant,” Wright said.

Nancy Seifert has served as prin­ci­pal of Jenifer since 2013.

“At Jenifer, we con­sider our­selves a fam­ily, be­cause we not only work long, hard hours to­gether, but we cel­e­brate our suc­cesses to­gether, and we ad­dress our needs and our chal­lenges to­gether,” Seifert said. “I love Jenifer El­e­men­tary School; I love the chil­dren, I love the staff, I love the many suc­cesses we see ev­ery day; some are big and some are tiny.”

Seifert noted the school has grown, with the new kinder­garten wing which opened in 2016, as well as ad­di­tions of new se­cu­rity sys­tems, ex­panded tech­nol­ogy and a new roof.

“One thing though has re­mained the same: our heart is our chil­dren. The chil­dren that we greet ev­ery morn­ing,” Seifert said. “We, the staff at Jenifer El­e­men­tary School, strive ev­ery sin­gle day to model for them and to teach them to be the very best they can be; to be out­stand­ing moral cit­i­zens and to stand up for what is right and hon­or­able.”

Susie Fowler was the prin­ci­pal of Jenifer from 1997 to 2007. She said vis­it­ing Jenifer for its 30th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion was like deja vu, as she presided over the school at its 20th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion. Fowler said that when the school opened, kinder­garten was only half day, there was no stan­dard cur­ricu­lum in Charles County and most peo­ple shopped by go­ing to stores or or­der­ing from cat­a­logs via mail.

“The world has changed dra­mat­i­cally since Jenifer opened 30 years ago, but what hasn’t changed is chil­dren who need teach­ers who will cre­ate a safe en­vi­ron­ment where chil­dren can thrive,” Fowler said. “You can just feel that this is a school that cares about kids.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Mem­bers of the Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Cho­rus per­form a med­ley of pa­tri­otic songs dur­ing the school’s 30th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion Thurs­day.

Kevin Grote of the So­ci­ety for the Restora­tion of Port To­bacco speaks about the life of Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer.

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Prin­ci­pal Nancy Seifert wel­comes guests.

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer El­e­men­tary School fifth grader Bri­anna Goul­bourne per­forms “Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful”.

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