By SHERIDAN CYR
Urbin T. Kelley Elementary School celebrated half a century on Thursday, Nov. 2. Current and past students, parents, staff, faculty, administration, Board of Education and Town Council members filed into the cafeteria for a ceremony.
Local scouts led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance. Former students, Kelly Bergland, Manal Sheikh, and Jordan Wagner sang the National Anthem, and then the students took the stage.
First graders sang, “The Bear Necessities,” from “Jungle Book,” and second graders performed dances that were popular 50 years ago. Third graders offered fun facts from the school’s half century history, and fourth grade students crowded the stage, dressed in costumes from the ‘60s. Fifth graders tested the audience with a Price is Right competition to show how much prices have changed since the school first opened its doors in 1967.
Even the teachers joined in, taking the stage for a chorus of “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.
Kelley principal Marilyn Kahl introduced a number of former students and faculty to the stage to share their memories and kind words about the elementary school as the community celebrated 50 years. Even former principal Alan DeBisschop returned to the school to share some of his memories of his tenure, which spanned from 1994 to 2002.
“My time here was very special,” said DeBisschop. “It always felt like a family amongst staff and faculty members.”
The speakers comment ed on the many changes to the building and the town since the school opened in 1967. At the time, Southington’s population was about three quarters of what it is today.
Originally named West Ridge Elementary School, the town renamed the building in the mid-1980s to honor Urbin T. Kelley’s 43 years of service on the Southington Board of Education.
“Anyone who has worked here or gone to school here should appreciate the time they spent,” said former Kelley teacher Robert Carbone. He said that teaching at the school kept him young. “In 50 years we have gone through an unbelievable amount of changes and we’ve had our ups and downs, but it has been a privilege to be a part of it.”
Chris Palmieri, minority chair of the Town Council, presented a Town Proclamation to the school on behalf of the council. The proclamation recognized the 50th anniversary and Kelley School’s place in Southington’s history and community.
A flag was also presented to Kelley School from the class of 2017 recognizing the anniversary. It will be raised beneath the American flag outside of the school.
A number of town officials talked about their own connection to the school, including Timothy Connellan. The Superintendent of School said that he has fond memories of sending his own children through Kelley School.
“I really want to congratulate the faculty, staff and students of Kelley School,” said Connellan. “This is a wonderful gathering. We see them enjoying, reflecting, and learning something about their school, and for many, about their families.”
Following the ceremony, guests were invited into the gymnasium for cake and refreshments. Old photos, class albums, technology, and other visual displays decorated the borders of the room. Guests were also invited to roam the halls of the school for at trip down memory lane.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI