Monday, June 15, 2009

Rancho Santa Fe School Pre-Demolition Reunion

1. The group shot in the amphitheater. 6-3-2009
2. The ICM
3. The LGI
4. Dr. Rowe, me, and the time capsule 6-6-2009
5. The amphitheater
6. Elementary School classrooms
7. Elementary School classrooms
8. The trees
9. Elementary School classrooms
10. Elementary School classrooms
11. Teachers. (L-R) Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Jacobsen, Mrs. Bohrer, Ms. Miano (Mrs. Spaulding), Dr. Rowe, Mr. Spivey, Mr. Myers
12. Mrs. Spaulding and me

Rancho Santa Fe School, where I attended from Second through Eighth Grades (1976 to 1983), is in the process of being demolished to make room for a larger, more modern school. The elementary school, built in 1955, and the Middle school, built in the early 1970's, served the community well. But, as the student body has grown in recent years, the old school was no longer adequate. It is sad to see it go, but the fond memories of my days there will remain.

With the news that the school would soon be demolished, my sister, Bibbi (RSF School class of 1978), the alumni director for the school, decided to plan a reunion of alumni and past teachers. Within ten days she was able to round up alumni and teachers for this memorable event.

On Wednesday, June 3, my sister organized a photo shoot of mostly alumni and teachers who still live in the area, to appear in the local paper, The Rancho Santa Fe Review. Before the photo shoot, we gathered in the gym (spared from demolition), for a school assembly to mark the end of the school year and the end of the old school. The alumni and teachers were introduced to the student body. It was nice to see my niece, Dallas, and nephews, Sterling and Stetson (RSF classes of 2013, 2012, and 2015) among the student body. After the assembly, we gathered in the amphitheater for the photo shoot. It was great seeing the different generations of students gathered together along with past teachers. The oldest alumnus was Mr. Clotfelter who attended the school in the 1930's. My niece and nephews were among the present student body in the photo. My brother, Bill (RSF School class of 1980), was down from San Francisco, to be a part of this photo shoot.

On Saturday, June 6, the much anticipated reunion was held on the grounds of the school. There were about two hundred people in attendance. This reunion was also an occasion to unearth the time capsule, buried in 1976. Since it would be covered up by the new school, the time capsule had to be recovered.

The time capsule was the idea of Mrs. Spaulding, who had students fill it with mementos from 1976. The box was filled with argon gas to preserve the contents and was buried in a spot near the flagpole. A plaque was placed over it to mark the spot. The plaque had since disappeared, so people who were present at the burial had to go by memory to try and locate it. With the help of workmen with a backhoe and shovels the area where the time capsule was thought to be buried was dug up. They kept digging and digging, but there was no sign of the time capsule. It looked as if it wouldn't be found. They dug up another spot and found something. It was the time capsule. The metal box, wrapped in black plastic, was lifted out of the ground. The plastic was unwrapped and the box was revealed. It was a little rusty, but was still intact. In the excitement many people wanted to open the time capsule then and there. But, it was decided to rebury the time capsule on the grounds of the new school, and have it unearthed and opened in 2026 as originally planned. Hopefully there will be another reunion at that time.

After the unearthing of the time capsule, everyone continued to mingle, and reminisce. It was nice to see so many smiles and happy sounds. Everyone was given permission to spray paint messages on the walls of the school.

It was great seeing so many of my old classmates. Many of them I haven't seen in many years. It was nice to reminisce about the good old days. Not everyone was as recognizable all these years later. It was good that everyone had name tags. Being that I was the only student in a wheelchair, it was not hard to recognize me. It was also great to see some of the teachers there. The teachers in attendance were Mrs. Spaulding (now Donna Miano), Mr. Spivey, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Jacobson, Mr. Myers, Mrs. Bohrer, Mrs. Sumida, Mrs. Stumm. Of course, no reunion would be complete without our beloved principal, Dr. Rowe.

Dr. Rowe, who is still going strong at eighty and is just as genial, was the heart and soul of the school. He remembered all the names of the students, cared about all the students, and always had encouraging words. I remember him telling me, "Go get 'em, tiger!" Despite my disability, he treated me just like any other student. This made me feel accepted and like I belonged. I also have memories of his blue VW Bus. After he retired, the school was renamed R. Roger Rowe School. A much deserved honor for a special person.

As I drove around the school, it brought back many memories. I was struck by how much smaller the school looked. It was as if it had been shrunk. I visited my old classrooms and other parts of the school. It was hard to believe that in a matter of days it would all be reduced to rubble and would only exist in my memories and in photographs. As I visited my old class rooms, I could still remember all the names of my teachers. Second Grade, Mrs. Seaman; Third Grade, Mrs. Watson; Fourth Grade, Mrs. Pierce; Fifth Grade, Miss Brugman; Sixth Grade, Mrs. Jaffari (previously Mrs. Watson); Seventh and Eighth Grade, my homeroom teacher was Mrs. Spaulding.

All of these teachers had some impact on me in some way or another. They all treated me no different than the other students. I got in my share of trouble. I could be quite feisty at times. I remember in Fourth Grade getting upset at Mrs. Pierce and throwing a pencil at her. The pencil missed her, but boy did I get in trouble. Of all my teachers though, the one with the most impact on me was Mrs. Spaulding.

Mrs. Spaulding was one of those teachers that you don't forget. She made learning fun and encouraged us to do our very best. She truly cared about her students. Her teaching of history contributed to my love of history.


Hanging out at the IMC (Instructional Media Center). I believe Mrs. Flood was the school librarian, later to be replaced by Mrs. Rau.

Hanging out with my very best friend, Danny Zappia (R.I.P.) He was my constant companion, protector, and helper. I remember before I got a power wheelchair, he would push me everywhere in my manual wheelchair. Sometimes we would zip around the school. One time as we were racing around campus, we wiped out. He picked me up, put me back in the chair, and we continued on our way. Danny moved to Virginia in the middle of Seventh Grade, where in March of 1982, he and his sister, Karen died in a car accident. I also have fond memories of hanging out with my other best friends Sandy Schaefer (now going by the name Alex), and Peter Wilmans (Class of 1982)

I remember getting my first power wheelchair in Fifth Grade, and the freedom to scoot around the school without assistance. It was also a form of transportation for my friends who would hitch rides on back of my chair.

School dances and school plays in the LGI (Large Group Interaction). I remember dancing in my power chair until the battery got low. I never ran over any girl's toes. A band called the Pin Stripes performed at some of our Seventh and Eighth Grade dances. I remember my sister playing Daisy May in the school production of Lil' Abner.

I remember all the school assemblies, award ceremonies, pep rallies, and campaign speeches for the school elections in the amphitheater.

I remember in Sixth Grade running for school Secretary. I wrote what I thought was a great speech and practised until I thought I had it memorised. I was so confident that I went out to the amphitheater in front of the whole school without my notes. I got to the podium and forgot the text of my speech! I came up with some lame speech off the top of my head. I was so embarassed. In seventh Grade, I ran for Vice Prsident. This time I had my speech notes and gave a good speech. I remember losing to Hillary Sammis by a slim margin. David Hillman was elected president. Though I lost both elections, it was a great experience.

The Halloween Carnival. They had a parade through town of all the kids in their costumes, game booths, a cake walk, and rummage sale. I remember the Brue family having some of the most creative costumes.

The Seventh and Eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. in 1982 with Mrs. Spaulding. The highlight was meeting President Reagan in the White House.

The Christmas Sing at the Inn, where each class sang a different Christmas song to the accompaniment of Mr. Frees on the Piano. I remember it was outside on the front steps of the Inn. It was also freezing out there.

The opening of the computer lab in 1982. It was equipped with the high-tech Apple II computers. The computer teacher was Mr. Casillas.

Eighth Grade graduation at the Garden Club. I remember rolling down the aisle with Tricia Giacomini and being careful not to roll over the hem of her gown.

After graduation in 1982, I went on to attend Torrey Pines High School. Though I have good memories of my years in High School, they are nothing compared to my memories of my seven years at Rancho Santa Fe School. Those were some of the fondest years of my life. I hope the students in the new school have just as fond memories.


Kelster69 said...

OMG, Dr. Rowe hasn't aged much, and Donna Spaulding hasn't aged at ALL! She's still a hot momma.
I can't believe Hillary Sammis beat you in the election--that sucks. You would have been a much better V.P. Anyhow, great pics, and what a great memory you have.

Bridget Cantwell McDonald said...

Hello from France John, these are awesome photos and memories! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that a Google Search of my old school, would bring up the brother of the only girl at Rancho Santa Fe School to ever give me a Valentine Heart!!! I was in 8th Grade and and Bibbi was in 7th grade at the time. I remember what a WONDERFUL GIRL Bibbi was back then!!! I have never forgotten her.
Tell her George says Hi!!! :O)

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Brian said...

Nice to see the old school again. I attended from 1955 to 1962. I had Mr. Rowe (as a young guy) for my fifth grade teacher. He was very good!
Brian Burns

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