COLUMBIA—Mill Creek Elementary School celebrated its 20th anniversary on Friday with a school-wide party, involving limbo competitions, popcorn and Taylor Swift songs.
The celebration kicked off at 2 p.m., but parents were blowing up “Happy Birthday Mill Creek!” balloons a full 30 minutes before the party started. More parents streamed into the front office to sign in and ask what they could do to help.
“Boys and girls, it’s time to hug your school!” the speakers on the blacktop shouted. The student body collectively gathered to hug the building and echoing choruses of “Happy Birthday” rang all around the school.
“Events like these take a lot of volunteers,” parent volunteer Kim Fallis said. She, with the help of her good friend Kim Hughes, pulled the celebration together.
Mill Creek Elementary School first opened its doors on September 5, 1989 to 486 students. Twenty years later, the school has grown to 758 students and has its own unique culture of parental involvement and staff investment.
Principal Mary Sue Gibson said Mill Creek’s unique culture lies in the people: everyone from the staff to the faculty to the parents make up the school’s community, and she is glad to be a part of it.
Parent volunteer Theresa Geyer said there were many things she appreciated about the school, including teachers, administration and the large degree of parent involvement. She also likes to support the kids and teachers through volunteering.
Debbie Sykuta used to work at Mill Creek as a cafeteria worker but still comes back to volunteer at events like this one. "The teachers are fabulous," she said.
Her son, Jacob Sykuta, also enjoys the atmosphere at Mill Creek. His favorite subject is math, and when he grows up, he aspires to become a petroleum engineer.
Fifth-grader Madison Gipson enjoys the learning environment. The teachers take the material from the textbook to make learning fun, she said. Her parents are also very much involved in the school.