Longmont Estates Elementary celebrating 50th anniversary
By Amy Bounds, Staff Writer, Times-Call
Longmont Estates is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Friday with speakers, a slideshow on the school's history and school tours to showcase what's changed in education in 50 years.
Planned speakers include Nat Kinlund, who served as the principal from 1973 to 1978, and Richard Montoya, who was the principal for 20 years before retiring in 2001.
Altogether, about 160 people have indicated that they plan to attend, with many former students and staff members sharing pictures and memories on an anniversary Facebook page.
Principal Traci Haley, who's in her third year leading the school, was a student there, volunteered starting in high school and student taught while earning her teaching license.
"It made me fall in love with teaching, and I had such a great experience here as a student," she said.
She was working as an assistant principal in Erie when the Longmont Estates principal job opened up.
"When I saw the job, I had to apply," she said. "I belong here. It really was special to be able to come back. It just feels like home. I want to make it the very best school I can because I love it."
Then there's teacher Angie Banning, who enrolled as a second-grader the year Longmont Estates opened. She's now a fourth-grade teacher at the school, and is retiring this year after teaching for 32 years — all but two at Longmont Estates.
"I'm excited to see some people I haven't seen in a long time and celebrate the school and all that it's become," she said.
When the school opened, she said, there was no music room, art room or lunch room — students either went home for lunch or rode the bus to eat at Hygiene Elementary School.
Parents raised money and installed playground equipment themselves.
The school originally also only went up to third grade, with students then bused to either Hygiene or Central elementary schools.
Construction on a permanent building started in 1973, with the new building opening as a K-6 school with 196 students in the spring of 1974.
The building was designed using the open classroom model popular in the 1970s — but the lack of interior walls and doors ended up universally hated by teachers. Classrooms eventually were closed in through a remodel.
Along with speaking at the celebration, Montoya plans to ring the school bell that he had installed after a parent tracked it down. The bell, for a bell tower added in a remodel, originally came from a school in Nebraska.
Montoya said he rang the bell on the first day, last day and once a month to celebrate the students and their accomplishments.
He described the school as extra special thanks to great parents, students and school staff, from teachers to an office secretary who kept everything running.
"Everybody took pride in that school," he said.