History and Memories at Boulder Hill Elementary's 50th Birthday Party
Former teachers and staff members came back to Boulder Hill Elementary on Friday to celebrate the school's 50th year.
Walking into the gym at Boulder Hill Elementary School Friday afternoon was like crashing a school reunion.
Everywhere you looked, you could see a former teacher or staff member, there to mingle with current staff and parents and mark the occasion of Boulder Hill’s 50th school year.
Just more than five decades ago, that very spot was part of a stock farm, and not one home had been built in Boulder Hill. In the ensuing years, though, it had transformed into a center of education that clearly meant a lot to everyone in the room on Friday.
Boulder Hill Elementary was built at the same time as the development that shares its name. Owned and overseen by developer Don Dise, the subdivision was built on land that once housed the Bereman Stock Farm. When constructing Boulder Hill, Dise donated the land – all 12 acres of it – and an additional $45,000 to the Oswego School District, according to Cliff Fox, a relative of Dise.
Fox was one of three local historians there to give the history of the school. Montgomery Patch history columnist Pat Torrance talked about the Bereman farm, while Roger Matile gave a rundown of the elementary school’s creation. Dise, he said, was a good businessman, and he foresaw the need for homes, a school and a church in the area, thanks to the thousands of jobs companies like Caterpillar and Western Electric were providing.
The tax referendum to build the new school passed by a 9-1 margin, Matile said, something you simply don’t see anymore. Boulder Hill Elementary opened in September of 1961, but before it was ready, Matile said, Dise offered the use of apartments he’d built as makeshift classrooms. He also donated land to build the nearby Neighborhood Church of the Brethren.
Friday’s celebration capped off a week of birthday parties for the school, which included dress-up days (kids and students wore school spirit gear on Monday, and ‘60s outfits on Thursday) and a service day, in which students came up with projects and carried them out.
Some students cleared out an outdoor education area and erected a teepee, others made anti-bullying posters, and others raised money to buy magazine subscriptions for the school.
Friday’s finale include a luncheon for former teachers and staff, a tour of the school led by student senators, and a historical presentation for students in the afternoon. And the final party held one more surprise for everyone in the room as well – the opening of a time capsule buried behind the cafeteria stage in 2000.
Lynne Reilly, who served as Boulder Hill’s principal from 1994 to 2003, opened the capsule, and found plenty of ‘90s-era goodies inside: Pokemon cards, photos of N’Sync, a Harry Potter book, gel pens, Beanie Babies and an old DARE book.
For Becky Campbell, being back in Boulder Hill was a fun experience. She and her daughter Sherice Daughrity both attended the school as children, and both had teacher Madge Jorgensen in 2nd grade. The three of them reconnected on Friday, and reflected – Cambpell has gone on to be a teacher of special education students, and in many ways, she said, it’s like she never left.
“Boulder Hill Elementary was always the heart and soul of this community,” she said.