Reeds Ferry School celebrates

The focus in the future at Reeds Ferry School in Merrimack will be on mental health and wellness, administrators say, but 50 years ago, students embraced the basics – reading, writing and arithmetic.

Now, scores of current and former students, alumni and staffers are poised to celebrate the Reeds Ferry School 50th Anniversary. The event is scheduled for 2-6 p.m., on Saturday, June 1, at the school, 15 Lyons Road, in Merrimack. Rain date: June 2.

There is a Buy-A-Brick fundraiser underway that for $50 each is securing for purchasers polished red bricks, each personalized, that will pave a circular path around the school’s flagpole. The project debuts on celebration day.

Kimberly Yarlott, principal, said there is high excitement about honoring the school’s heritage. The brick walkway will be a permanent commemoration.

“This project will serve as an enduring monument to 50 years of excellence,” Yarlott said. “We look forward to its long-lasting tribute to the community of Reeds Ferry School.”

The 50 years of the school are heralded in a colorful chronology, “RFS; Then and Now.” The history was written by students led by Kate Merva, fourth-grade teacher. The team, supported by Kathy Hoppa, school counselor, is comprised of classmates who gathered facts, interviews and vintage photos. Jane Cummings was cited within the booklet as a year-one teacher of 1968. Today, she serves as a substitute teacher.

Merva said she searched for a history of Reeds Ferry and found none. The lack led her to engage her students in writing an account.

“We began to compile facts and write the history of our school,” Merva said. “My classes have taken on this project with open arms.”

The document notes that Reeds Ferry School, named for William Reed’s ferry landing site, opened in the fall of 1968 with 295 students. There was no gym for 30 years. An all-purpose room sufficed for exercising until the late 1990s. Today, 22 classrooms and 74 rooms including many original closets are well used.

History team members whose research already has been highly acclaimed by peers and staffers include current students Annabel Cassetty, Samantha Dowling and Karis Allen, in addition to Haley Breault, Samuari Scott, Cooper Lelieve and Nithin Sathappan. Others now graduated began the project in 2017.

The fact-filled booklet features a plethora of facts. Common back then was the use of a single math book for an entire year. Students studied in double classrooms with wooden desks and two teachers for nearly 70 students.

The history team discovered that a student population swell occurred in the 1970s. Homes were being built. Kids from other towns were enrolling. The Reeds Ferry District count escalated from 295 students to 800 in one year. The documentation in “RFS; Then and Now” is rich with floor plans, graphics and diagrams. Dozens of vivid drawings, rendered in fourth-grade style, are mostly created with Crayon or marker pens.

All on the history team agreed that modern amenities are well appreciated at the school. In addition, today’s educators offer a wealth of integrated STEM projects, forecasters of future successes in science, technology, engineering or math. A new math program, “EnVisions,” stimulates understandable learning. A “Responsive Classroom,” supports community building.

Also cherished, they concurred, is the legacy of a half-century of enrichment. More information on the Reeds Ferry School 50th Anniversary celebration can be had by calling 424-6215 or online: sau26.org.

Loretta Jackson may be contacted via email:

ljackson@nashuatelegraph.com

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