Springfield Middle School marks 30th anniversary


WILLIAMSPORT -- Lea Michael has a history with Springfield Middle School. She studied there as a middle school student and completed student teaching requirements there during college. Now, she works at the school as a physical education teacher.

Michael understood the sense of pride underlying Springfield Middle School's 30th anniversary celebration Saturday morning.

"For me, this is really special because I was a student here," Michael said. "It's nice to see how people have changed and where they are now. There are people here I went to school with and I don't get to see them on a daily basis."

Michael presented a dedication award to retired teachers Rod Steiner and Cheryl Wilkes, each of whom taught Michael in school, then provided guidance to her during her student teaching. When Wilkes retired, Michael filled her teaching position.

Springfield Middle School Principal Jenny Ruppenthal said the celebration was organized, in part, to honor such connections established at the school over the years.


"We wanted to invite folks back who went to school here or who worked here," she said.

Ruppenthal said the school recently closed the door on the long-standing River Rat mascot and began a new tradition as the Cougars. Seventh-grade math teacher Jaime Mason, who donned the Cougar costume throughout the morning, said the event fostered the school's sense of community.

"Some (former) teachers came back today," Mason said. "I haven't seen some of them in a couple of years since they went into retirement. And it's nice to get people from the community out and bring everyone together."

Eighth-grade social studies teacher Leigh Face, who has worked at the school for 10 years, stressed the importance of community involvement in education.

"This is a nice way for the community to come back and see how things run and be a part of the school. (People) are here eating pancakes, taking tours, buying books," Face said. "The school can't be successful without the support of the community."

A 30th anniversary committee comprised of teachers organized the event, along with the school's Parent-Teacher Association. The celebration kicked off with a pancake breakfast, followed by a book fair, tours of the school led by student government members and children's activities such as face painting and temporary tattoos. Other entertainment included performances by the school's jazz band, orchestra, chamber choir and theater class.

Brett Weaver, 11, a sixth-grader at Springfield, participates in the school's magnet program and is a member of its Destination Imagination team. Weaver said he liked the demonstrations and presentations of student projects included in the school tours.

"It shows that Springfield has a lot of outstanding programs," Brett said.

The school's Green Team, which works to promote environmental responsibility, planted and dedicated a tree in honor of the 30th anniversary.

Team member Aubrey Sparks, 13, a Springfield seventh-grader, said the group thought planting a dogwood would be a good way to help the environment and to participate in the anniversary celebration.

"People will say, 'Oh, yay!" Aubrey said. "The school's lasted this long, and now it will have a buddy."

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