Party hats, popcorn and birthday decorations filled the hallways and playground of Northfield Elementary School on Thursday to celebrate the school’s 50th birthday.

“This is the biggest birthday party I ever went to,” Cathleen Lopez, the school’s principal, said to all students, staff and guests at the afternoon celebration on the school’s playground.


The Ellicott City school opened in 1968 and was renovated in 1986 and 2011. An addition in 2007 expanded the building, which has more than 700 students and about 100 staff.

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All staff and most students wore blue, yellow and orange “Northfield Elementary 50” T-shirts or sweatshirtsto show their school pride.

Former school teachers, administration and staff were invited to the celebration program.

“Northfield is like a family,” said Nancy Holmwood, who worked in the school for 27 years, as a third-grade teacher, team leader and a gifted-and-talented teacher.

Holmwood, whose two children attended the elementary school, read to a fifth-grade class during the birthday celebration.

County Executive Allan Kittleman and County Councilman Jon Weinstein, who represents Ellicott City, presented the school with a plaque commemorating the milestone. Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano also attended.

State Sen. Gail Bates also awarded the school a Maryland General Assembly legislative citation.

Former students from neighboring middle and high schools returned to to perform a musical piece, “Aspire,” by composer Mark Lortz.

Community members and students were invited back into the school for a historical tour, featuring “artifacts,” of old yearbooks and pictures and student artwork celebrating the 50 years.

During the celebration, all students got up on their feet and danced through the decades, from the 1960s to present day. The students learned the dances in their physical education classes.

Students also sang the school song, “We’ve Got Spirit,” composed by Kevin Wiedel, a former music teacher at Northfield from 1983 to 1988.

“Northfield’s our school we’re proud to say,” the students sang. “That’s why we’re singing this song today.”