COLUMBIA — An 85-year-old former student and teacher was among several hundred people who attended Grant Elementary School's celebration of its 100th birthday on Saturday night at The Blue Note in Columbia.
Otis "O.V." Wheeler, 85, was the oldest alumnus at the celebration. He attended Grant from 1933 to 1937 and was a member of the school's baseball team.
"We had a lot of fun," he said, gesturing to a photo of his former team members, many of whom he has kept in touch with over the years.
After serving in the military and attending college, Wheeler became a teacher. During his 30-year career, he spent two years at Grant teaching science to fifth- and sixth-graders in the early 1960s.
Other alumni, faculty, staff and current students also stopped by to reminisce on their time spent at Grant.
"There are a lot here from the ’70s, a lot from the ’80s and a ton from the ’90s," said Suzette Waters, the chairwoman of the Centennial Committee of the Grant PTA and an alumna herself.
M.C. Burns and Dahnya Rogers, now both 16, attended Grant for grade school.
Rogers said her favorite part about her time at Grant was her teachers.
Burns agreed, and added, "especially the principal, Ms. Borduin."
"This is about getting the people who love Grant School together," Beverly Borduin said. Borduin is retiring this year after serving as principal for 29 years.
Borduin circulated the room and chatted with students and parents nonstop through the event.
"We have a really strong family feeling at Grant," she said during a short speech.
The event, which was planned over the course of two years, featured kids activities, a silent auction and food donated by parents. The walls were adorned with photos of the school's history, art created by students, and blue and yellow star-shaped decorations.
Students, alumni and teachers took the stage in several live music performances. The Grant School Dancing Teachers performed a choreographed dance to Katy Perry's song "Firework," and later the Grant School choir showed its school spirit by singing "Grant Gets the Job Done."
The school has raised more than $11,000 selling centennial memorial bricks, which will be used to build a patio in the Grant playground. Proceeds will go to tutoring and mentoring programs for students.