Sharpe celebrates century of education

September 08, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In 1907, what then was called the Broad Street School opened its doors for students from first through eighth grades.

On Friday, Mary B. Sharpe Elementary School's 158 students and about an equal number of former teachers and students gathered around the flag pole as a color guard of students Madison Armstrong, Sarah Harris and Bryce Patterson raised the Stars and Stripes to mark a centennial of continuous education at the building.

"It's hard to believe it was one hundred years ago I walked through these doors," said regional principal Jeffrey Lucas, exaggerating by about a half-century.

Lucas attended the school in the late 1950s, and has been principal of Sharpe, Grandview and Lurgan elementary schools since 1993.


Eighty-two-year-old Esther Piper Shaffer's memories of the school go back to 1930, and she had no problem remembering the names of all of her teachers.

"They taught. They really taught you," said Donna Byers, another former student. "They wanted us to grow up and be patriotic good citizens of the United States."

"This is certainly not the flashiest school in our district," Superintendent Joseph Padasak said of the two-story building, which has no cafeteria or gymnasium like newer schools such as Scotland and Fayetteville elementary schools. "Certainly, it's the most beloved and cherished school in the district."

"I have two Sharpe kids," Chambersburg Borough Council President William F. McLaughlin said of his children who passed through the school.

"It's not the bricks and sticks. It's the people who work inside the building" that make for a good education, McLaughlin said. "These were the sculptors of young minds."

Renamed in 1933 for a woman who died in a fiery accident and bequeathed money to the school system, Sharpe has a celebrated past, but not much of a future remaining. Lucas said the construction of a new U.L. Gordy Elementary School will shut down Sharpe and King Street elementary schools.

Lucas said he expects Sharpe to be closed by the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.

Head teacher Trish Thomas said the centennial celebration will continue into next spring, with special T-shirts for the students, the opening of a time capsule buried in 1992 to mark the school's 85th anniversary and other events.

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