Yesterday, Eighth Street Elementary, the oldest continually used school in the state of Florida, celebrated its 100th year with a celebration including comments by the Superintendent of Marion County Schools, the Florida Commissioner of Education, a summary of the school’s history presented by students, and singing by past and present students.
The day can best be summarized by John’s closing comments:
The premier high school in the state in 1914. No electricity in the classrooms. A move from an over- crowded high school to a grammar and junior high school. Order kept with a mysterious electric paddle. New buildings constructed for the cost of today’s sports utility vehicle. Continued traditions such as the PTA/PTO, Bike Rodeo, and Spaghetti Dinner. A two million dollar renovation in 2000. History has been good to this building and the schools housed within its brick walls. This historic building has produced leaders such as Gov. Buddy MacKay and Lt. Gov. Jim Williams. It has served as a beacon for downtown Ocala.
Today we celebrate the centennial of this beautiful building, and we are looking ahead to the next 100 hundred years. I have asked students’ “What memories will you have to tell when you return for the Sesquitennial? How will schools change in the next 50 years?”
Our PTO’s mission is to use this celebration to Restore, Renew, and Revitalize our school. We want to keep our valued traditions in place. We want to continue to support initiatives such as supplying SMART classroom technology to all of the classrooms or installing a camera security system on the front doors of the school. Our PTO has set an aggressive plan to install a wrought iron fence with brick columns around this front lawn so our younger students can enjoy time under these stately trees without concerns of traffic or intruders. If this building has played an important role in your life, I encourage you to become involved with Eighth Street’s initiative to Restore, Renew, Revitalize our campus. You can donate financially to our efforts or volunteer your time and talents.
In closing, I am proud to serve as principal of Eighth Street Elementary and become part of its history. This building fosters a family atmosphere and a loyalty that is second to none. I am fortunate that my three daughters attended Eighth Street Elementary and have memories as solid as the brick walls of this school. Teachers and students have been teaching and learning here for 100 years. We will continue to SOAR.
A special thanks to David Steffey for sharing pictures of the celebration.