Clarksville Elementary turns 40


October 14, 2004|By Laura Shovan | Laura Shovan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's been a remarkable change out here at Clarksville," said Brad Herling, principal of Clarksville Elementary School.

The school celebrated its 40th anniversary this month with skits, guests and a tour of the building. Clarksville Elementary's first principal, 82-year-old Lee McFarlane, was guest of honor at the event Oct. 2. He and other former staff members and pupils spoke of the area's shift from farmland to suburb.

The celebration, organized by the school's PTA, drew about 300 people. "We tried to advertise it out so that some former parents and students could come." Herling said.

Guests were treated to a series of skits performed by fourth-grade and fifth-grade pupils. "Each [skit] was of a decade and the history of the school. ... It was a lot of fun," Herling said. The entertainment was produced and directed by parent Dana Keane, who also wrote some of the scripts.

PTA President Karen Titus said that Keane, "really pulled the show together. Any fourth- or fifth-grader who wanted to participate was invited to."

The skits were introduced by current and former staff members, who shared memories of each decade. Herling said, "Some of the reflections were more personal," such as memories of events at the school, or how the building once looked.

McFarlane and another original staff member, secretary Marion Garrison, talked about the school's rural beginnings.

"I think there was one house within sight," McFarlane said. "It was strictly farm country at that time, very beautiful." There was a once pig farm across the street from the school in an area that is now residential.

Titus said she enjoyed listening to McFarlane and Garrison's memories. "It was really interesting to hear that when the school opened, milk was 5 cents," she said.

A favorite story from the school's early days is the time "two bulls got loose and came on the playground," during recess, Titus said. Garrison had to bring pupils indoors and call police to take care of the animals.

McFarlane opened the school in 1964 and was principal for six years. He described how the school was established. The county closed two smaller schools and an elementary section of what was then Clarksville Junior High to form a population for Clarksville Elementary.

Titus said that when the skits were done, all of the performers sang a song "written" by one of the school's families. Pupils learned "Last School Bus to Clarksville," an update of the Monkees' tune "Last Train to Clarksville" in chorus.

The entertainment concluded with the reading of a proclamation from Howard County Executive James N. Robey. The school also received letters from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

After final remarks by Herling, guests were invited to tour the building, which has undergone two renovations. The school was decorated with photographs from different eras, blown up to poster size. Also on display was a student-created timeline noting world and school events over 40 years.

"Our PTA really did all the hard work to make this happen," Herling said.

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