Ridge Park El­e­men­tary cel­e­brates 50th an­niver­sary

The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By M. English

In 1962 the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis be­gan (and ended), the Supreme Court de­clared manda­tory prayer in pub­lic schools un­con­sti­tu­tional, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and Eleanor Roo­sevelt died, comedian Johnny Car­son was re­born as host of the pop­u­lar “Tonight Show,” 007 hit the big screen and con­tem­po­rary icons as di­verse as the U.S. Navy SEALS, Wal-Mart and Tar­get de­buted … all against a com­bined back­drop of the Cold War, the Space Race, the evolv­ing war in Viet­nam and a White House likened to Camelot.

Amid such head­line grab­bers, the open­ing of Colo­nial School Dis­trict’s Ridge Park El­e­men­tary School in a cul-de-sac off Karrs Lane in Ply­mouth was de­cid­edly low-pro­file. But try telling that to the thou­sands of students, par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors who have found a home away from home at Ridge Park dur­ing the past 50 years.

Bet­ter still, con­sider rem­i­nisc­ing with many of them at the school’s on-site coun­try fair — dubbed “50 Fruit­ful Years” — planned for Oct. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. The fes­tiv­i­ties are open to the pub­lic and will fea­ture tours, “old-fash­ioned” ac­tiv­i­ties and games, a moon­bounce, hayride, pump­kin walk, bean bag toss and re­fresh­ments. Ridge Park fam­i­lies, staffers and “spe­cial guests” will also re­ceive a com­mem­o­ra­tive gift to mark the sil­ver an­niver­sary.

“We’re cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of ex­cel-

lence in ed­u­ca­tion and strong tra­di­tions,” says Prin­ci­pal Michael McKenna. “To kick off this school year, we learned that Ridge Park was named a 2012 Na­tional Blue Rib­bon School. We look for­ward to shar­ing this news with past and present Ridge Park community mem­bers at the an­niver­sary event. Ridge Park has grown tremen­dously over the past 50 years, and we look for­ward to help­ing students face the chal­lenges of the next 50 years as we move for­ward in the 21st cen­tury.”

At press time, a Face­book group es­tab­lished to plug the fair had al­ready DWWUDFWHd VLJnL­fiFDnW UHsponse.

“The out­pour­ing of sto­ries and pho­tos from past students and teach­ers has been fan­tas­tic,” says tech­nol­ogy teacher and fair or­ga­nizer Brian Adams. “Ev­ery­one has fond mem­o­ries of their years at Ridge Park and are ea­ger to visit the school to see how it has grown over the years and to catch up with old friends.”

In a nod to the school’s mas­cot, cur­rent Ridge Park students will mark fair day with a full ros­ter of Pan­ther Pride ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Our students and teach­ers take great pride in their school, and the 50th an­niver­sary will al­low students to re­al­ize that they are part of a larger community,” says mu­sic teacher and fel­low or­ga­nizer Amy Venkus.

Ridge Park was de­signed with slid­ing walls to ac­com­mo­date an open class­room for­mat, the ex­per­i­men­tal — fre­quently con­tro­ver­sial — con­cept of stu­dent-driven in­struc- tion that sur­faced dur­ing the 1970s. The build­ing wDV UHFRn­fiJuUHd WR LWV present tra­di­tional lay­out in the 1980s and ex­panded in 2004. Most re­cently, a state-of-the-art sound sys­tem was in­stalled in the gym­na­sium “to en­hance as­sem­blies, au­thor vis­its, phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, pre­sen­ta­tions and pro­grams.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ridge Park spokes­men, the school now en­rolls 370 students and em­ploys some 60 teach­ers and staffers.

The lat­ter “go out of their way to make ev­ery­body — the students, par­ents, vol­un­teers — feel like they be­long,” says PTO mem­ber and fair or­ga­nizer Lisa Dun­leavy. The Ply­mouth woman’s daugh­ter, Rory, is a Ridge Park third-grader. Son Shane, a fourth-grader at Colo­nial El­e­men­tary School, is a Ridge Park alum.

“The teach­ers, ad­min­isWUDWRUV, IURnW RI­fiFH SHRSOH … they’re all so wel­com­ing and friendly,” Dun­leavy adds. “They know ev­ery­body’s name, and they just make it so easy for you and your chil­dren to feel that you’re part of the school … and the community. Ev­ery­thing about Ridge Park is top qual­ity, and … it was re­ally no surSULVH WKDW LW TuDOL­fiHd DV D Blue Rib­bon School.

“I think this is why so many peo­ple who were in­volved with the school years ago are ex­cited about this … and plan to at­tend the fair. That’s kind of the idea be­hind hav­ing an oldfashioned fair — the idea of the past and the present com­ing to­gether. It should be a lot of fun.”

Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion is avail­able by call­ing 610825-1083 or via the Ridge Park link at www.colo­nialsd.org.

Photo cour­tesy of sub­jects

Ridge Park El­e­men­tary School staff and students form the num­ber 50 on the front lawn of the school in honor of its 50th an­niver­sary.

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