North School Celebrates 50 Years Of Memories

Staff and students past and present gathered together to wish North Elementary School a happy birthday on Saturday Oct, 28.

The party celebrated 50 years of education with cake and cider and ended with a ribbon cutting ceremony unveiling the refurbished Coltin Courtyard, named after former principal Mary Coltin. It’s nestled in the middle of the school and is expected to be well used before winter.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, the school’s current Principal Paul Dutton and Assistant Principal Jill Connors addressed the crowd of almost two hundred parents, teachers and students. They spoke of the dedication that went into creating the beautiful spot and thanked the PTA for helping to raise the funds for the project. Connors said, “this will now be a place where the staffa and children can learn from each other.”

The courtyard was officially opened to the school community when Coltin’s grandsons helped to cut the ribbon. Her husband Mike read a speech on her behalf, as she was feeling too ill to attend the ceremony. “She really debated to come or not,” he said. But despite not being there in person, she was there in spirit. Coltin said in her speech that, “I am humbled by the fact that it bears my name.”

Coltin may be retired these days, but she spent over 40 years as an educator, over half of which was in Londonderry. Her husband said he believed it was PTA member Deb Johnson who first proposed the courtyard be named after the former principal. Coltin loved the school and its community so much that her husband said “it was her heart and soul.”

Some of Coltin’s former staff members were also present for the birthday party. Kim (Bateman) Carter was the first full time physical education teacher. She, and the schools first nurse, Marilyn (Webster) Ham and Carolyn LaPlante were strolling down memory lane while walking the halls of the school. Carter noticed a golden sneaker hanging next to one of the classroom doors, which in their day belonged to LaPlante’s second grade class. The sneaker was covering a golden instrument and a golden ruler. According to Carter, the golden items were presented the best class in each subject (gym, music and art). Carter was impressed and proud that the tradition she started with the golden sneaker over 30 years ago was still going on.

It was fun for the three of them to not only reminisce about old times (LaPlante told a story about a boy who brought in a snake to scare the girls) but to see new additions to the building and the North School family. “Many of the kids we had are here with their kids,” said Carter. Another staff member from their tenure is Nancy LaPorte, who still teaches music and even lead the chorus during the day’s celebration.

After the party, Dutton, Connors and other staff members began cleaning up and preparing for Monday morning. The apples from Mack’s and Sunnycrest were put back in the fridge and what was left of the cake was put away.

“I think it was a successful birthday celebration for North School,” said Dutton.

Looking forward, he expects the traditions that staff like Coltin, Cater, LaPlante and Ham began to continue to inspire future generations of North School children. What started with the golden sneaker has led to golden bear paws, which encourage students to follow the “Bear Tracks to Success.” It promotes three of North School’s greatest traditions: respect, responsibility and safety.

If you’re ever at North School, come to the courtyard and sit on one of the bear paw marked wooden benches by Eagle Scout Alan Rankin, or enjoy the fiery colored leaves of the maple tree before they fall. Walk down the brick walkway and take the time to read the names of those who donate to making the space.