Over the past 50 years, Wilmot Elementary School has been many things: among them a place for students to get a good education and a school surrounded by parent and community support.
However, at the school’s golden anniversary celebration on April 30, about 300 attendees learned that Wilmot also is a place where love sometimes gets its spark.
Ivan Wolverton, who attended Wilmot in the late 1970s, told the group during a walk-down-memory-lane program that when he was in sixth grade, he was waiting in line for the bus one afternoon and saw a girl being chase by a bunch of boys.
He didn’t know her, but she definitely caught his eye. They were in different grades, and he had virtually no contact with her during middle and high school. However, he knew her name: Stephanie Martin.
Martin said she was a rebel and Wolverton was a jock, so they had different circles of friends. They went their separate ways, got married, had kids and divorced.
Then, four years ago, Wolverton looked up Martin on Facebook. They reconnected and are getting married on June 8. In addition, Martin’s 9-year-old daughter also attends Wilmot.
“Wilmot is the reason we’re together now,” Wolverton told the group.
Their story was among hundreds told that night as former faculty and students toured the school and reconnected with friends. They entered the school by walking on a red carpet, saw class pictures by decade on the walls, and ate cake as part of the anniversary.
There were a half-dozen former faculty members and alums who attended Wilmot when it first opened at its location on Hatch Drive in the fall of 1962. There’s some friendly dispute about when the school first was called Wilmot.
Wilmot got its roots from the Evergreen Elementary School formerly on the site of the library. Then it moved to where the high school is now.
The original building was unique in its design, set up in hexagonal pods. It was torn down and rebuilt during the 1999-2000 school year, and classes were held in temporary buildings that year.
Kindergarten teacher Diane Kanagy, who has been teaching at the school for 23 years, said the gathering, and the enduring love and support for Wilmot, kept bringing the word “legacy” to her mind.
“All of you are a part of that,” she told the group. “All of you left a unique fingerprint on the legacy of Wilmot.”
Marcia Younger, a Wilmot teacher when it opened in 1962, told anecdotes about women teachers not being allowed to wear slacks to school and not being allowed in the classroom when they were pregnant.
“This was a community of trust,” she said. “Wilmot is a community full of loving, supportive families. I made some lifelong friendships that have lasted for 50 years.”
Wilmot third-grade teacher Amy Vermeulen told the group that many things about Wilmot have changed over the years — the building, the names of faculty, the clothing and the hairdos, but the talent of the staff and the support from parents and community have remained.
Dick Reed, who taught special education at Wilmot from 1963 to 1966 before teaching at Evergreen High School, summed it up best: “This is just like home.”
A timeline of Wilmot Elementary that includes many pictures of the school through the past five decades can be seen between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for the next two weeks. Visitors need to check in at the front office.