Stoneleigh Elementary in Towson lives on in hearts and minds of long-ago graduates

When many people hear “Class Reunion,” they tend to think of high school or college. But in Smalltimore, where ties to the schools we grew up with are especially strong, a good old elementary school reunion can be a whole lot of fun.

Jack Tuttle, Diane Gilley Jones Staton, Nancy Gretz Sebring, and Ellen Smith share fond memories of their years together as the Stoneleigh Elementary Class of 1962, and have held three SES reunions in just the past decade.

“Our first reunion, in 2009, was organized primarily by Ellen Smith, David Wilson, David Elseroad and Debbie Hunt Devan,” Sebring said.

More than 50 former Stoneleigh-ites submitted short bio sketches and favorite Stoneleigh memories to compile into a booklet.

“The top school memory, by far, was playing Greek dodge at recess,” Sebring said. Other memories were the May Fair and Maypole dance, Play Day against Rodgers Forge, the sixth-grade dance, safety patrol, air-raid drills and band practice, she said. And, several noted watching the first manned space flight on a television in the gym.

Tuttle added, “We toured SES on Friday afternoon and did a Saturday morning ‘memory walk’ through Stoneleigh, starting at the Stoneleigh Pool parking lot, and strolling by everyone’s old houses.”

In 2013, their 45th Towson High School reunion rolled around, so they decided to tack on an SES reunion party at Stoneleigh Lanes. They found that not much had changed at the duckpin alley, “which was great for us,” Tuttle said.

This year, the group gathered once more, in conjunction with the 50th THS reunion. A dozen former classmates also reunited with a beloved teacher, Miss Mary Ellen Plumhoff. As students, they had been invited to attend Miss Plumhoff’s wedding at the end of the school year when she became Mrs. Menzel. Tuttle recalls that was “an unforgettable experience for us all.”

“It makes it very special, indeed, to have this bond and keep turning out for it,” Staton said. “I think we are all proud that Stoneleigh Elementary School has evolved so well physically, and remains a cherished part of the Stoneleigh Community.”

For their most recent reunion, the group charged a fee to cover costs, and there was some overage. It was decided that extra funds would be donated to the Stoneleigh Elementary PTA, earmarked for “something fun for the kids.” PTA President Mia Capen is very appreciative of the $500 contribution, and says possible uses include a visit from the Oriole Bird, hiring the Kona Ice truck, or sponsoring a Book Bingo.

SES Principal Heather Hollenbeck is looking forward to celebrating Stoneleigh Elementary’s 90th birthday in 2019, and wants to incorporate special tours and events for alumni into the festivities.

“I believe that the strength of Stoneleigh Elementary is based on relationships built between the school and families each year,” Hollenbeck said. “The fact that former students gather to reminisce about their time in elementary school and give back speaks to positive impact and enjoyable memories they had, and their wish to support for future generations.”

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