Whenever I’m in the Stratmoor Hills area with my dog, I’ll take him for a walk around Stratmoor Hills Elementary School.
I attended Stratmoor from second through fifth grade, so I know numerous details about the building.
I’ll take him around the school while explaining the significance of each room.
“This is where I had my fourth grade classes and where I learned about the Oregon Trail.”
Of course, Harry, my 8-year-old dachshund, is excited for the walk, he doesn’t care about the history.
But I cherish those moments. Now, I’ll have to rely on my memory a little more, as the building isn’t going to be an elementary school anymore.
At the finale of this school year, Stratmoor Hills Elementary will “repurpose” and aid the neighborhood in a different capacity.
Next school year, Stratmoor, “Will serve as the base for our Aspire Online Academy and strategic community partners,” school officials said in a press release back in October.
I’m happy the building will remain in use, but I’m melancholy a Harrison District School 2 elementary neighborhood school will close. Especially one where I have so many memories.
A few I recall are:
We had a pizza party in second grade and, at the time, I didn’t like pizza. Rest assured, I’ve dropped that literal childish behavior and enjoy it as an adult.
However, at the time, pizza looked nasty, so I refused to eat it. Well, I fibbed to my teacher and said I was allergic to pizza. I know, I’m awful. But I went to my desk and talked to my friends who enjoyed their meal without giving the lie any thought.
The next day our janitor, I believe it was Mr. Carnes – please forgive me if I forgot, it’s been 25 years – he comes in with a literal treasure chest of candy.
“OK, who’s the kid allergic to pizza?” He asked as I turned my head to see a treasure trove of sweets.
So, my lie got me candy, I’m slightly ashamed, but that provided a valuable lesson — something I obviously did not appreciate then but do now — school faculty go out of their way to give kids joy.
Third grade unleashed a smorgasbord of life interests. Mr. Remtema would play soundtracks from kids movies for kids who arrived to school early, he expanded my understanding of life, and he let our class keep a pet rat.
Until third grade, I thought Miami was a state. He explained that Maine was in the northeast of the U.S. and Miami is a city in Florida.
He gave blank atlases to me and my friend and had us fill out what states went where. Sorry, Mr. Remtema, I still suck at the East Coast cluster, but the rest of the United States, I remember well.
P.S.: Ms. Fox, who still works in the district, taught me to keep my head up. One day, Ms. Fox noticed me slinking around the halls with my head slumped.
Ms. Fox stopped me and asked what was wrong. I gave the typical mumbled third grader non-answer. She gently grabbed my chin, smiled, and requested I look up and smile. I did and I haven’t stopped since.
Thank you so much, madam!
Fourth grade was the year I learned to type, which, you could say has benefitted me in life. But, most importantly, this was the Oregon Trail year!
I don’t believe I ever made it to California, but damn, the effort to get there, trying to ration money and food, dumping dead relatives in the middle of nowhere because we had a schedule to keep. What glorious memories.
Oh, I also earned two first-place ribbons at my first-ever field day. One in a sprinting event and another in the long jump. I failed to defend both in my final year of elementary because…
Fifth grade: My introduction to sports disappointments.
These are funny in hindsight, but at the time I was irate. After earning first place in long jump in fourth grade, I felt invincible heading to my final field day. I wanted that grand champion ribbon pinned to my chest.
After my first jump, of course, I was in first.
I ventured off to my sprinting event, where I finished second, which I figured would happen. Then, I returned for my second jump to learn I dropped to second place. Excuse me? Who dared to come for my crown? A kid who participated in no sports in gym class or after school, that’s who.
We only had three jumps and I fell short on the second and scratched on the third. If not for potential discipline at school, I would’ve caused a scene and ruined field day for everyone.
Like I said, it’s funny now. It was not at the time.
There are scores of other memories: our music teacher Ms. Davis teaching us that E, G, B, D, F are the lines of the treble clef and F, A, C, E makes it “as easy as can be.” She created a jingle to make it stick. Fair to say it did.
I also recall book fairs, Cave of the Winds field trips and the bus going silent up Snake Way, the curvy road we took to reach the area, the “D.A.R.E.” song we sang to our parents that still kinda slaps, me and my friend Mark dominating four square during recess.
While Stratmoor will serve as a hub for Aspire, it’ll be hard for me to pass the school and realize it’s not the elementary I attended.
Good-bye my Stingers, and thank you for the memories.