Todd’s First Graduating Class Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane

Members of the first class of Briarcliff’s Todd Elementary School (Photo supplied)

When was the last time you set foot in your elementary school? For most of us, it was probably on the last day of school, prior to moving on to secondary school.

Recently, a group of close-knit Todd Elementary graduates – the first at the school – paid a visit to their old alma mater and had the chance to reminisce about their life as elementary-school children.

It was almost 70 years ago that the former students were the first to walk down the halls of the original Todd school building. Seeing the school again gave them the opportunity to remember life as young schoolchildren.

“A parent of a current fifth grader recently contacted us and told us that his mother and her friends were having a reunion at a local restaurant here in Briarcliff,” said Todd Assistant Principal Anne Marie Foley. “They were all celebrating turning 75 this year and were wondering if they could tour the school.”

Out of the one dozen who got together, seven were able to come by the school in the afternoon hours when school was over. They walked around the hallways, visiting some classrooms, and as they walked, they had flashbacks about their time at Todd as young children.

“They were excited to share their stories,” Ms. Foley said. “They mentioned teachers who had left an imprint on them in their lives. One of the former students was even able to list every single teacher by name.”

They also mentioned doing specific activities, such as ballroom dancing in what is now the K-2 cafeteria, taking naps in first grade and delivering milk to the kindergartners when they were third graders.

“When they visited their third-grade classrooms, their memories came to life,” Ms. Foley said. “They spoke about their third-grade teacher, and how she had made school magical for them.”

Many artifacts in the display case near the front office are from the time they were at the school, and some of the former students are even featured in the photos.

“They talked about the photos in the display, where girls were wearing dresses and boys were wearing ties – that was because their parents dressed them up for picture day,” Ms. Foley said. “Their teacher in the photo was also the principal at the time.”

When they began kindergarten, they were still in the old building, which is now the Atria, but when the new building was ready, they attended the school as first graders and were the first class at the school.

“They enjoyed seeing the students’ artwork in the classroom and hallways,” Ms. Foley said, “One of them used to be a civil rights lawyer and she was very happy to see some of the displays, for example, the one about women’s history.”

The former students now live all across the country: in Georgia, New Jersey, and Connecticut, for example, but they have all stayed in touch through the years; they have always held reunions just for their grade.

“It was nice to listen to their stories and hear where they are today,” Ms. Foley said. “They were very appreciative that they were able to see the school and they could not believe how much the Briarcliff community has grown. It was such a special day!”

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