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With final year ahead, Relay Elementary begins celebration of half-century

Relay Elementary celebrates 50 years in its building

Students and staff at Relay Elementary School spent Friday, June 10, in a joyous mood, as they celebrated the building's 50th birthday.

The daylong celebration included an outdoor assembly and various activities throughout the day. The festivities were organized by the school PTA's 50th Anniversary Committee.

"We just wanted to really honor the school for the 50 years of service it's provided the community," said Sandy O'Donnell, the committee's chairwoman. "[It has provided] a really good quality education for the community."

In the assembly, students sat by grade, each grade wearing shirts tie-dyed a different color. They sang "Happy Birthday" and the school's song, and learned about Relay Elementary's past from former school librarian Linda Stevenson, who owns the first Relay Elementary School — a schoolhouse built in 1864.

When the current building opened for the 1965-66 school year, there was one class per grade level, Stevenson said. Now there are four. When the building opened, there was one bus delivering kids to school, she said. Now there are 10.

And while Friday was a day of celebration, Principal Lisa Dingle had a lesson to share with students.

She told them about life 50 years ago, when cellphones, color televisions and the internet didn't exist — shocking the students lined up on the lawn.

As she explained, someone had to come up with the idea of developing these things.

"Can you imagine the person who was watching TV one day and said, 'You know what? I wish these pictures were color pictures, not black and white anymore.' Or, 'I wish we could speak on a phone and there was no dangling cord attached to the phone.'

"Could you imagine that person sharing their idea with someone else? And that person probably said, 'You're crazy for thinking such things.'"

She encouraged them to reach into their natural curiosity and believe in themselves, and that they, too, can change the world for the better.

The students also took part in a service project, collecting more than 150 pounds of school supplies for families in need both at Relay and at nearby Lansdowne Elementary School.

The original Relay Elementary School closed in 1920 when a second building was constructed on South Rolling Road. That building closed in 1965, when the current school opened. The second building is now used by the Relay Children's Center.

With the school population growing, a need for a larger facility became more apparent. While the school capacity is 415, total enrollment is 529.

Ground was broken in March for the fourth iteration of Relay Elementary, which will have capacity for 700 students. The $40 million building is set to open in August 2017.

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