Eleanor Kelso, 9, center, laughs with a classmate as she almost drops her hula hoop during a dance party at Sylvan Elementary School in Sylvania. Enrollment runs from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Hundreds of schoolchildren and parents came to blow out the candles and make a wish for Sylvania’s Sylvan Elementary as it celebrated its 50th birthday Friday night.
The gym was decked out in the school colors, green and yellow. It was filled with anxious children and smiling parents for a dance party in celebration of the school’s golden anniversary. Sylvan opened its doors in the 1963-1964 school year.
PHOTO GALLERY: Sylvan Elementary turns 50
When alumni recall their early education at the school, they always mention that its setting in a small neighborhood made all difference.
“I love Sylvan,” said Eric Addington, 41, who graduated in the mid-1980s. When he looked for a school for his two children, Allison, 9, and Drew, 7, only Sylvan made the list.
“It’s in a neighborhood, and a lot of people in Sylvania don’t know where it’s at. It’s a hidden gem,” he declared.
“There were only two neighborhoods that fed into it,” Mr. Addington said, recalling his days walking to school and meeting up with school friends on the way.
The school, at 4830 Wickford Rd., is situated in a cluster of residential streets between the main streets of Holland-Sylvania Avenue and McCord Road. Sylvan was originally K-6, and Mr. Addington was part of a sixth-grade graduating class.
When Timberstone Junior High School opened in the 1990s, the elementary school became kindergarten to fifth grade.
In 2010, Sylvan expanded its kindergarten schedule from half days to full days, Principal John Duwve said.
Friends Maya Holman, left, Danyelle Bumpus, and Kaydie Otey, right, leave their mark on an anniversary banner. Alumni, parents, and teachers call Sylvan’s neighborhood setting a major strength.
Ron Carroll, 54, who works in the school’s maintenance department, was four years old when he started at Sylvan in 1965. “As a little kid, it seemed a lot bigger,” he recalled, adding that the school has not changed much since.
The building was, however, expanded twice. In 1992, classroom space was added. In 2010, a new gym, music room, and classrooms were built. That took away some of the recess playgrounds. Mr. Carroll recalled three separate playgrounds for different grades.
Over the years teachers seem to have won students’ hearts.
“Teachers really took the time with the students, and they still have a tradition of working with the kids ... Whatever their strengths are, the teachers are behind the child’s enthusiasm,” said Kelly Ressler, 43, a 1983 graduate who has two children at Sylvan.
On Friday, a group of fifth-grade girls dressed in party dresses for the special occasion — Haley McClain, 10, Torie Davis, 11, Kace Baumhower, 10, and Lizzy Zucal, 11 — responded in unison that it’s the teachers who make Sylvan the best.
Some say the community feel and teacher-student relationships are enhanced because students still walk to school.
“It’s a small neighborhood school, and you see people walking to school or events,” said third-grade teacher Ruthann Manders, who has been at Sylvan more than 22 years.
She and fifth-grade teacher Kit Moore, who started in 1986, agreed that a tight-knit atmosphere has endured at Sylvan over the years.