The Talbott Springs Elementary School community took a walk down memory lane last week — a stroll 40 years in the making.
Hundreds gathered at the Columbia school Friday, Sept. 20 to celebrate Talbott Springs' 40th birthday — past and present administrators, elected officials, teachers, students, parents and community members, all reflecting on the school's history and looking to its future.
"We hit middle age," Principal Nancy Thompson told the gathered crowd. "Our history is rich with stories of learning, people and events. Although the calendar has changed, the sentiment of the place has remained solid throughout these 40 years. The staff and students represent a deep level of caring for each other as we prepare so many for a future full of promise."
Talbott Springs opened its doors in 1973, and much has changed since then. In the days leading up to the celebration each grade was assigned a decade in the school's history, and the results of their learning was on display throughout the hallways: an 8-track player, a boombox, photos of the students dressed up in 80s fashion, to name a few. And in exploring their history, students and staff uncovered a long-forgotten school song, which fourth- and fifth-graders sang Friday night.
Students also walked their audience through the years, listing notable events from history, from Hank Aaron breaking the home run record in 1974 all the way through Y2K and the launch of the iPhone in 2007.
"As we look to the next 10, 20 years, honoring the school community is so important," Thompson said.
Indeed, much has changed, Thompson said — the students took to Google for their research, and many photos from recent years only existed on cell phones and digital cameras — but some things have stayed the same.
"Forty years. It's hard to believe, isn't it?" said Howard County Board of Education Chairman Frank Aquino. "Columbia has matured and this school has matured, and it's fair to say that after 40 years, there's a tradition here and that tradition needs to be carried on. We are only caretakers here for a short time while we have our children in their schools. ... A community makes a great school and a school makes a great community."
Howard County Council member Calvin Ball, who represents District 2, attested to the strength of the school and its neighborhood. He's a Talbott Springs parent himself; his daughters Alexis and Alyssa are in fifth and second grade, respectively. They like Talbott Springs because it's "fun," Alyssa said, and they're always learning new things. Alexis said everyone in the school is quick to "help each other out," and Ball spoke to the importance of the school's reaching 40 years in the community.
"This demonstrates that we have a rich history upon which we can build a successful future," he said.
Past teachers like Carrye Jones made the trip "home" for the celebration, because it was "like a family reunion."
"I had to see all these people who were so important to me," said Jones, who taught at the school from 1984-2001.
Kim West, a Talbott Springs parent to fourth-grader Ben and second-grader Brooke, was excited to celebrate the school's birthday with her family.
"Everything about this school is awesome," she said. "The staff is always there for you, they'll do anything and everything to help the kids. And the community is wonderful; it's so diverse, which is such a great thing for the kids."
West's children shared in their mother's joy.
"The teachers are nice. My classmates are very, very nice," Brooke said. "It's so much fun to be here."