Happy 50th, Parmalee

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Former students, teachers, principals celebrate school’s half-century mark

By Deb Hurley Brobst

Parmalee Elementary School’s 50th birthday party on Friday was as much a celebration of the future as it was a tribute to the past.

More than 100 former students, teachers and principals, plus several dozen parents, watched a school-wide production, toured classrooms, spoke with students and viewed pictures of the school through the last five decades.

Jeffco Superintendent Cindy Stevenson celebrated the children who will be part of the classes of 2020 through 2025 when they graduate from high school.

Principal Ingrid Mielke, who has been at the school for 13 years, reminded the audience that in 1962, John F. Kennedy was president and “West Side Story” received an Academy Award for best picture.

A postage stamp in 1962 cost 4 cents, a fast-food hamburger cost 20 cents, and a gallon of gas was 30 cents.

Mielke said the demands on children are even greater now than they were 50 years ago, and schools have the challenge of preparing students for careers that don’t exist yet.

The children sang the first Parmalee school song, the lyrics of which had been lost but were reconstructed by former teachers.

A tribute to the past

The production, with every student at the school participating, was called “Parmalee Through the Years” with music from each decade, news highlights and details of the school’s history.

The production was based on the school being “epic” — in this case meaning spectacular. Second-grade teacher Julia Davis wrote the script with epic at its core and each letter of epic standing for three words describing the school: E was for enlightenment, empowerment and encouragement; P for possibility, potential, and perseverance; I for imagination, inspiration and innovation; and C for courage, contribution and confidence.

Karrie Osborn, the parent volunteer who coordinated the birthday party, said she was thrilled with the number of guests who attended the celebration, and she gave kudos to Davis for writing the production’s script.

“The show brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh,” she said. “(Davis) epitomizes our teachers here at Parmalee. They go above and beyond in everything they do.”

The school’s tribute to its history

After the production, the alums and former teachers wandered through the school. On the walls were photos and newspaper stories. In the classrooms, students displayed projects they had done in conjunction with the birthday party.

The third-grade science class released 50 butterflies.

Second-graders wrote paragraphs that began: “Parmalee is the perfect fit for me because …” The paragraphs were neatly displayed on posters with pictures of the children.

Second-grader Joshua Clapp wrote that Parmalee is a perfect fit because the teachers love him, they get him to think, they challenge him and help him use his imagination.

Second-grader Maedeleine Robinson said she felt safe because “I know all of my teachers are looking out for me.” She also said she like the way math is taught because it’s challenging.

Children in a kindergarten/first-grade class wrote acrostics, which are poems where the first letters in each line form a word — in this case, “Parmalee.” First-grader Natalie Zimmerling wrote an acrostic: Panthers, Awesome, Respecting, Me with friends, Apples, Leggos, Excellent, Everything is fun.

Greg Dorsey’s fourth- and fifth-graders wrote stories about a day in the life of a fifth-grader in 1962, and Donna Sutherland’s fourth- and fifth-graders wrote about a day in the life of a fifth-grader in 2012.

Students in both classes shared their stories with guests who roamed through the building.

Ralph Bartlett, Parmalee’s first principal from 1962 to 1965, said the quality of education at Parmalee had been consistently great through the school’s 50-year history even though the demands have changed. He was impressed with the parent support that has been a mainstay of the school all these years.

Bartlett talked about the first few months when Parmalee opened when the building wasn’t quite complete.

“They were still laying tile in the classrooms during the first few months,” he said.

Osborn was thrilled with the celebration.

"This day really spoke to what's at the heart of Parmalee Elementary: community,” she said. “It was such an honor to have so many former teachers, students, parents and staff come back to pay tribute to this great little school. It just further reminded us how special this school is, and was, for so many. We couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate Parmalee's 50th birthday."

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041.