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Glacier Valley Elem. turns 50

Posted: November 22, 2013 - 1:07am
Students at Glacier Valley Elementary's 50th birthday bash on Thursday dance to music from various time periods since the school's opening.  MATTHEW WOOLBRIGHT | JUNEAU EMPIRE
MATTHEW WOOLBRIGHT | JUNEAU EMPIRE
Students at Glacier Valley Elementary's 50th birthday bash on Thursday dance to music from various time periods since the school's opening.

As Liz Lucas and Louise Dawson rifled through old pictures of the Glacier Valley Elementary School’s faculty over the past 50 years, a current teacher stopped them.

“Oh, my gosh! It’s Ms. Lucas!” said Susie Denton, a physical education teacher.

Even at the school’s 50th birthday bash Thursday, where alumni and former faculty members were expected to attend, Lucas and Dawson drew special recognition.

After all, they were there when the school first opened its doors in 1963.

“It really is wonderful to be back with the progress they’ve made, and the kids are learning all kinds of things we didn’t have the opportunity to teach them,” Lucas said.

They were brought back to the school by the reunion celebration marking the school’s first half-century in operation.

“We want to celebrate the school operating for 50 years and serving the students in the valley for as many years,” Glacier Valley Principal Ted Wilson said. “It gives the opportunity to folks associated with the school to see what the school is up to, and for some, to see what it looks like after the big renovation.”

The festivities included videos of the current students doing themed dances dedicated to the decades since the school opened, an array of food from hot dogs to cake and a plethora of historical photos and newspaper clippings about the school in the library.

Following the initial program, visitors spread throughout the school to see students’ work displayed in the halls, talked with old friends and, for Lucas and Dawson, a trip back to yesteryear.

“We really, truly enjoyed it,” Lucas said of the duo’s 14 years teaching at Glacier Valley. “It was a lot of fun, and the kids were well behaved and respectful.”

The friends first met at Taylor University in Indiana. It wasn’t long before Lucas moved to Juneau in 1952, and a couple years later Dawson was offered a job teaching at the Capital School while visiting Lucas one Christmas.

“We both taught sixth grade. We had it nailed down,” Lucas said.

Moving from the Capital School to christen the new one, Glacier Valley, wasn’t the easiest of decisions, Lucas added.

“We were having such a good time in town and thought, ‘Oh, gee, we’re gonna have to work clear out in the country,’” she recollected.

Now, as the friends look back, the memories at the valley school hold a special place.

“The smiling faces are great. They’re still having a wonderful time,” Lucas said of the kids. “And parents are still bringing their kids to school and having fun with them. That’s what it’s all about.”

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