Young and old recently gathered in the Hawthorne Elementary School library, reminiscing over a century of education memories that spans generations of students in the Salt Lake Valley.
Hawthorne alumni from the 1940s and current fifth graders swapped contrasting stories from different eras. Yet, each story was set in the familiar backdrop of class, recess and education that defines the timeless elementary school experience.
Hawthorne hosted the community celebration to commemorate the school’s centennial, displaying photos and artwork from 1912 to the current student body. The celebration was part of a larger series of events, including a “blast from the past” assembly on the 100th day of school in February and lessons highlighting important events during the school’s history, including the sinking of the Titanic and World War II, said Hawthorne Principal Marian Broadhead.
“It does a lot for all of us just to recognize the history and the heritage of the school,” Broadhead said.
Dick Taggart, 83, said his time at Hawthorne produced a lot of great memories. Taggart, a member of the school’s class of 1942, recalled playing games at recess and learning the waltz and foxtrot from his teachers in the old school’s auditorium.
“We thought that was cool,” Taggart said.
However, Taggart said he is disappointed the school no longer emphasizes learning skills such as writing in cursive and wished that students were less restricted, as they were when he was at Hawthorne. In those days, kids could bring squirt guns to school, and students could dance with teachers.
“I know why they are doing it, but the laws have gotten so stringent, they won’t let you just be yourself,” Taggart said.
Marla Ward, 30, and Rebecca Ward, 54, mother and daughter Hawthorne alumni, said they came to the celebration for the nostalgia.
Marla, a member of the school’s class of 1992, said she is proud of attending a school that has been a community center for generations of students and parents.
“When you’re a kid here, you just think about yourself and your time here,” Marla said. “Here [at the celebration], you get a sense of this is a bigger scope than just what me and my classmates experienced.”
Spencer Clark, 11 and a fifth grader at the school, said he showed the building to some of the older alumni who went to school in the original Hawthorne. The old building was replaced in 1988.
“I’ve actually given some of the people here a tour because they went here in the 30s and 40s,” Clark said. “It’s really fun seeing all of the diversity of age from different people.”
Broadhead said the school is filling a time capsule with items from each current class to be opened in 50 years. She singled out technology as something that is remarkably different between Spencer’s class and the class of 1942, but said the capsule will be filled with photos similar to those on display in the library because they hold more significance than flash drives and discs.
“I think even with the change in technology, [the pictures] will be a wonderful draw,” Broadhead said.