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