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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Silver Strand Elementary Celebrates 50 Years of Voyager Pride

“Oh beautiful, distinguished school, on shores of golden sand. For learning at its very best, come here to Silver Strand! Oh Silver Strand, oh Silver Strand. They see us from afar. Our students and our staff members make it a shining star!”

For 50 years, Silver Strand Elementary has been a shining star in education and on Friday, June 5th, the faculty, staff, students, school board members, members of the district office including CUSD Superintendent Jeff Felix, and other special guests celebrated in grand style. During the weekly Friday flagpole assembly, Principal Bill Cass led the 50th anniversary celebration which included a forecast of the celebratory events that would be held throughout the day, singing, recognition of retired faculty and staff who were in attendance and the placement of a time capsule by Debbie Lavage, Kindergarten teacher and 31-year veteran at Silver Strand, in the school’s garden. The time capsule, which includes a yearbook, a list of favorite things from throughout the year and other mementos, will not be opened until the school’s 100th anniversary, during the 2046/65 school year.

During the event, the PTO presented a check to Silver Strand Elementary for $40,000 which is to be used for the Academic Support and Enrichment (ASE) program, which helps to lower class size by providing small group instruction for math and reading, allowing students to maintain their current academic level. Due to budget cuts, Silver Strand lost 4 out of 8 ASE teachers. The funds presented by the PTO, which were largely raised from this year’s luau, will be used to bring back one of the teachers.

After the ceremony, attendees were invited to peruse Strand Hall to view student projects and various memorabilia, including and old globe and school desk, which were donated or loaned from previous students and faculty.

Just after the start of the 2014/2015 school year, Cass received a phone call from a man who identified himself as a student from Silver Strand’s first class. He informed the principal that 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of Silver Strand. Principal Cass confirmed the anniversary date with Bruce Linder, Executive Director for the Coronado Historical Association and then began planning the commemoration with the help of Silver Strand staff members.

Each grade level was deemed responsible for a specific project to mark the anniversary. The projects would help tell the story of Silver Strand and give a nod to notable people, pop culture and events over the years. The grade level projects are as follows:

Kindergarten: Created banners to display at June 5th flagpole celebration and in Strand Hall.

First Grade: Collected items to include in the time capsule. A plaque was also designed.

Second Grade: Developed videos of interviews from former students and faculty, as well as slideshows, and presented on June 5th in Strand Hall.

Third Grade: Worked with Coronado Historical Association to create a giant tapestry depicting life in Coronado in 1964-65.

Fourth Grade: Conducted interviews with former students and faculty, including an interview with Yvonne Kuhn, daughter of Steve Kuhn who was the first principal at Silver Strand Elementary, and retired Admiral Lou Smith, who helped build Silver Strand housing and is a current member of the school board. Interviews were then compiled and published as a keepsake student newspaper called Silver Strand News.

One of the retired staff members who was interviewed is Mary Killpack, who worked as a teacher’s aid and instructional assistant from 1972-2002. She recalls her time living in Silver Strand as a military family as some of her best memories. Back in the early 1970’s, the school was small and there was no cafeteria, all the students walked home for lunch. Of course there were no computers or cell phones, nor was there a bike path along the strand or bus service. During that time of the Vietnam era, many of the military fathers were gone, leaving a village of mothers behind to support one another. Killpack recalls that because of this “isolation,” the community was dependent on one another. Parents were really involved in the school. Luckilly, not much has changed in that arena. She recalls jackrabbits in the school yard, children playing on the beach and hungry seagulls that would swoop down over the patio and steal lunches from unsuspecting students.

Fifth Grade: Created a report of fun facts from each year from 1956-2015.

Throughout the day on June 5th, every hour on the hour a popular song from each decade starting with 1965 was played over the intercom system. The playlist was developed by the Student Council. Students and staff were also encourage to dust off their 1965 garb and dress up for the occasion to add to the festivities.

While the day was focused on celebrating the history and future of Silver Strand, Cass explains the thought that went behind each activity.

“We wanted the 50th Anniversary to be educational, reflective and fun,” he says. “And it’s just a neat way to celebrate the end of the school year.”

(Special thanks to Nicole Palmer for images from the flagpole ceremony.)


Mary Douglas

Staff Writer


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