It was a homecoming like no other. Sunset Hill Elementary School's gymnasium was filled with people, both young and young at heart, for one reason: to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary.
On Nov. 17, the school welcomed current and former students, families and staff to commemorate the school's milestone. The celebration included a historical presentation by Bob Gasch, a musical performance by the school's choir, a tour of the school with rooms decorated to reflect the decades, a presentation of plaques to former principals and recognition of alumni and staff.
Karen Keffeler, current Sunset Hill principal, said enrollment at the school has had a steady increase throughout the years. The school has had two construction renovations, the most recent was completed this fall.
There have been five principals at Sunset Hill before Keffeler. The first was Roger Adams, followed by Doug O'Brien, Gary Kipling, Carol Bryant and Karla Thompson. Keffeler has been principal for 10 years.
"So in 50 years not very many principals, which I think is a really good thing," Keffeler said. "This is just a fabulous building. There is a wonderful community of families and the staff is amazing in the passion that they have toward student learning and our students have a lot of fun and they excel at what they do. So we're really proud of Sunset Hill and our academic excellence and history."
Four of the former principals attended the Nov. 17 celebration. Each of them was presented with a brick from the original building. The bricks were obtained during the most recent construction. The bricks were placed on plaques for each principal with the saying "Thank you for being one of our building blocks of our school."
"This is great, I'm happy I'm able to be here," said Adams.
Sunset Hill was built at $11 per square foot, according to Gasch. The school standing today is still very much like the original proposal, Gasch said.
"The school still looks the same," former Sunset Hill student Shelley Menge said with a chuckle.
The Nov. 17 celebration was well attended.
"I think it's great, [it's] bringing back a lot of memories. It's awesome to see the pride that the school has with the families and the teachers because I remember that as a little girl. I remember that in our family because my mom always talked about what a great school district it was, so it's great to hear all that continue," Menge said.
Gasch said Central Middle School is also celebrating its 50th anniversary, as it was also built in 1963.
The current Sunset Hill Student Council is putting together a time capsule to be opened for the school's 75th anniversary in 2038.