Lee Elementary celebrates 100 years of history

Sunday, September 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:04 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hanging lamps and a wet principal were the main attraction Saturday at Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School.

A year of celebration for the school culminated Saturday with one final party; the school's carnival marked the end of Lee's 100thth birthday celebration, which included a silent auction, dunking tank and carnival games.

While the students' goal for the previous school year was to better understand the events of the past century, on Saturday students had a different goal-getting pPrincipal Mary Sue Gibson into the carnival's dunking tank.

School sSecretary Carol Dublin took the plunge first and then offered encouragement to students.

"Somebody has got to get Mrs. Gibson; I have to see it," Dublin said. Fourth-grader Zoi Rosado was one of many students who successfully hit the target and dropped Gibson into the tank. "It was pretty cool," Rosado said. "She doesn't deserve it, but it's just a lot of fun."

But Gibson was happy to help as profits from the carnival will be put back into the school.

"The first couple dunks were pretty cold, but then it was OKokay," she said. "I even figured out a few methods to keep me from going all the way under every time."

The dunking booth wasn't the only hit at the carnival, however. A silent auction including four pendent lamps that had hung in the original school in 1904 also drew crowds. The auction was one of several attractions that commemorated the school's history.

For the past year, students and staff have researched happenings from the past 100 years. Their longest endeavor has been the creation of a centennial book, which will be released in a few weeks, principal Mary Sue Gibson said.

Fifth grade teacher Jean Dickinson worked with her students last the past year to create the book. The process started with students writing letters to former teachers and students.

"We received more than 80 letters from students who had recently graduated high school to people who were 80 years old, all of who had attended Lee or taught here," Dickinson said.

The letter writing was followed by interviews with 25 local alumni. All of the letters and interviews will be included in the book. Dickinson said their experiences helped students learn about history while at the same time doing something for their school.

"What I found was with every letter and interview they learned more and more," Dickinson said. "By the end, my kiddos had an incredible grasp of history and could tie historical events to the people they had met."

Saturday also marked the unveiling of another long-term project -the a centennial quilt students created to commemorate the birthday.

"They made the quilt at the end of last year," music specialist Susan Altomari said. "Each class took a picture and then one of our parents helped in getting it all together. It will hang in the hall of the school so it's something permanent."

Saturday's event was organized by the parents under the supervision of the PTA. Planning for the carnival began in June and is part of the group's mission to raise $10,000 this year in an effort to bring in more artists to the integrated arts school through the Artist in Residence program. This same program enabled students to perform their centennial play in May and to produce the centennial CD. "Our vision was to do four special events and to find new ideas rather than just have the kids sell wrapping paper," PTA President David White said. "We'll also do an International Night, an ice cream social, and a pizza sale."

More than 45 parents helped set up and work booths for the event. Carnival chairperson Erica Akers said she was very pleased with the parent help and turnout.

"I think you do it for your children and for their school," she said. "It's a great way to get parents involved, and I think we succeeded in that aspect."

Gibson said the events have helped enrich everyone's education.

"I've just been really pleased with such a strong parent support starting with the kickoff last November," Gibson said. "It's really been so successful and so fun even for the staff to learn about Lee."

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