By JEN CARDINES
If you pull out an old calendar from 1967, it will match up exactly with 2017. Now put your finger on April 9, 1967.
“At the Drop of Another Hat” closed at the Booth Theatre in New York Cityafter 105 performances. The first Boeing 737 took flight. And in Southington, Flanders Elementary School was officially dedicated and opened for young Southington minds.
The current Flanders student body gathered in the auditorium to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary with a nod to each generation to pass through the halls. Each grade level, from first grade to fifth grade, paraded into the party with costumes and performances to celebrate each decade of Flanders’ history.
The fifth graders led the procession, dressed in 60s tie dye, holding signs with facts like “Houses back then were only $12,700.”
The fourth graders followed with teased hair and shiny jackets to represent the 70s, while others painted faces like members of KISS.
The third graders represented the 80s with off-the-shoulder casual wear from movies like “Flashdance.” One third grader came dressed as Pee Wee Herman.
The second graders did their part to represent the 90s, with shirts tied off at the waist, or Red Hot Chili Peppers concert shirts, and flannel.
The first graders celebrated the new millennium, dressed as if they stepped off the screen of a Harry Potter film.
The kindergarten kids swept in for the finale, sporting bright yellow emojis to celebrate the cell phone era.
The audience—which included parents, faculty, town officials, and former Flanders staff—cheered the students on as they brought back old memories. Everyone was in costume, posters waved through the air, choreographed dances were performed, and there were even musical numbers.
When the students concluded the entertainment portion of the celebration, officials were called upon to say a few words about Flanders throughout the years. Board of Education chair Brian Goralski, Superintendent Tim Connellan, and Assistant Superintendent Steven Madancy addressed the students. Rep. John Fusco (R-Southington) had a volunteer student read an official proclamation from the state.
But all eyes drew to one gentleman in particular when it was his turn to speak. Louis Fabri, Flanders’ first principal, stood at the podium to address the crowded room.
“It’s a pleasure to be here,” the 89-year-old former administrator said to the assembly. “I felt I was very lucky to be selected as the first principal of this school.”
Fabri came to Southington in 1960 and served as the principal of Hatton for six years before beginning his 24-year reign at Flanders.
Sixth grade DePaolo teacher Trish Kenefick was also there alongside Fabri for opening day as a teacher at Flanders.
“It was exciting,” Kenefick said. “It was a grand opening of a brand new school. We were the state-of-the-art in town.”
She also recalled her early days of teaching at the new school, and working under Fabri’s leadership.
“Flanders had the highest test scores and the happiest teachers because we wanted to please Mr. Fabri,” said Kenefick. “He was respected, and he encouraged us to go for the gold.”
Town Council chair Michael Riccio presented a proclamation from the Town of Southington, but not before expressing his gratitude for Flanders Elementary School as well.
“I’m really excited to be here today and to see all my teachers,” he said. He told the students that his second, fourth, and fifth grade teachers were in the room, and that his music teacher was recently retired principal Patricia Mazzarella.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.