25th birthday celebrated at `no ordinary school'


October 09, 2001|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"BASED ON first impressions, this should be one of the more rewarding experiences of the young students' lives, for this is no ordinary school." So wrote Buddy Muse for the Columbia Times in August 1976. That school is actually two schools, Dasher Green Elementary and Owen Brown Middle.

The conjoined schools celebrated their 25th birthday Friday with assemblies, a parade and a tree planting. Pupils learned about life in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was campaigning to become the 38th president and the Bay City Rollers were belting out "Saturday Night" on cassettes and eight-track tapes.

According to yellowed newspaper clippings preserved on frail pages of the 1976 Dasher Green scrapbook, the schools were on the cutting edge of public education.

Carole Windsor wrote in the Sept. 5, 1976, edition of the Times: "A speech therapist said the new building `just makes you want to have children so they can attend a school like this.'" The writer notes the curtained shower stalls, 24 new Singer sewing machines and "what appears to be an enormous media center."

All of those things are still there, although the curtained shower stalls are no longer used, said Ann DeLacy, who has been at the middle school nearly as long as the sewing machines have. She started as a "home ec" teacher in 1977 and also taught reading and English. Her title has changed to family and consumer science teacher, but she said that is not the only change she has seen.

"The school [population] was so small when I first started teaching here. It was mostly upper middle class at the time," she recalled. "Now it's more diverse."

DeLacy said many of her former pupils are teachers in Howard County. "They still call me Mrs. DeLacy," she said with a chuckle.

Pinkie Strother has been teaching art at the middle school "since day one," she said. She felt lucky to win a position in the new school. "It offered more than the other middle schools in the county," she said.

She remembers taking her art students outside to draw the horses that grazed on land that is now a townhouse community next to the school. "It was really beautiful over here," she said.

The only other employee who has been at either school for the entire 25 years is Louis Hackett, the custodian for both schools.

The first assistant principal of Dasher Green was Andrew Barshinger, now principal of Guilford Elementary. In 1976, he was a newlywed and a newly appointed assistant principal. "It was very exciting for me," he said, adding that the combination of elementary and middle school was especially noteworthy at the time.

The decor was unique, too. "It was the bicentennial year. It was painted red, white and blue," he said.

Helping with the paint was volunteer Barb Colby, then a homemaker. "It was the school that everyone wanted to attend," she said. In 1981, when the last of her three sons started at the school, she was hired as a secretary in the front office, where she remains today.

Last week, volunteer Jeanne Poole collected items to put into a time capsule, including current newspapers, compact discs and schoolchildren's drawings of today's fashion trends. School officials hope staff members will find and open the capsule 25 years from now, she said, as she searched in vain for a similar capsule from 1976.

Oakland Mills homecoming

The weather cooperated for Oakland Mills High School's homecoming festivities Sept. 29. "We were nervous. You don't have a rain date for homecoming," said Vincent James, faculty adviser for the Student Government Association.

A parade before the football game featured floats from each class. This year's theme was board games. The juniors took first place with their "Mousetrap" float, followed by the sophomores' "Operation," the seniors' "Monopoly" and the freshmen's "Chutes and Ladders."

Others in the parade included members of the marching band, ROTC, cheerleaders, and safety patrols from Jeffers Hill, Stevens Forest, Dasher Green, Thunder Hill and Talbott Springs elementary schools.

James was pleased with the day, including the football game vs. Atholton High. "We won the game 41 to nothing, which made it even better," he said.

Parting words

Sue Plaut, a reading specialist at Owen Brown Middle School, says she has always loved birthdays, especially her own.

"My birthday always ends up being a weeklong celebration," she said.

Plaut's festivities have been elaborate - a birthday visit to Las Vegas, for example - but a simple tradition makes the day special for her.

"Each year, my mother tells me the story of the day I was born," she said. It's long, but at age 29 Plaut has not tired of the tale. She knows that wherever she happens to be on her birthday, her parents will call from her hometown, Buffalo, N.Y., to tell the story again.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.