Monday, November 17, 2008

Goodbye Cresthaven Elementary

Yesterday, I had the bittersweet pleasure of attending a goodbye party for my elementary school. When I first enrolled in Cresthaven Elementary in 1964, the school resembled a new ranch house with a (what was then) hip, mid-century design; flat roof; multiple rectangular, plate glass windows; and incredibly spare ornamentation.

The school is almost exactly as I remember it, all the way down to the folding lunch tables stored in the front of the all-purpose room. The library found its way down the hall to larger quarters and renamed itself as a "media room" (ack!), but otherwise the school appears to have completely avoided evolution.

Until now. The Montgomery County Public Schools is tearing the building down in January and replacing it with a three-story "green" primary educational facility. That certainly sounds like a MCPS thing to do; in fact, they tore down my junior high school a couple of years ago and now are in the process of rebuilding it. So while my alma mater is still standing, I decided to make one last trip to the school.

When I was a child, Cresthaven sported ubiquitous Maryland landscaping: green grass, misshapen azaleas, and spindly oak trees. Those oaks are now gentle giants who inspired a rush of childhood remembrance: my saddle-shoed feet plowing through ever-abundant brown, brittle oak leaves and their companion acorns. Those sturdy seeds looked like tiny heads just waiting for a face. I liked to play with acorns, popping the woody tan hat to expose the acorn's bald spot and then searched diligently for telltale worm holes. Rolling the acorn around in my palm, I tried in vain to break the shell, settling finally for pressing the pointy neck deep into my thumb. Even then, I marveled that such a tiny seed could one day produce a glorious tree. Thinking back, I realize I was also a resilient, little acorn just waiting to grow.

And grow I did. Under the careful tutelage of my elementary school teachers - Mrs. Ness, Mrs. Bauer, Ms. Cochran, Miss Beasley, and Mr. Ritter - I received a simply stellar education. God bless you all - and thank you. I pray the students who attend the new, improved Cresthaven Elementary get even half the education I did. If they do, they will most certainly grow into mighty oaks themselves.


John Matthews said...

Yeah... I used to get picked on a lot there... And my phys ed teacher in 5th grade called me Porky in front of the rest of the class.... A name that stuck with me until like 9th grade. Good times. Good riddance!

Julie Matthews said...

Well, yes... as your grandmother always said, "Times were hard for all of us..."

Oli said...
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Unknown said...

I think that cresthaven has been a great school because it helped me.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I went to Cresthaven and Francis Scott Key, swam at west hillandale swim club, and grew up in the area (one block from FSK). Well, I am glad to see that a new generation of students will have up to date facilities under the same names as the ones I attended. At least Springbrook HS looks the same... for now!

Montgomery County said...

Great memories comes from great people and great places... Sometimes we missed those childhood days and even when we are in our elementary days.