This year, Langtree Elementary School is celebrating 50 years of existence. The school’s 50th year may be one of its busiest yet.
Principal Joyce Gallo kicked off the celebration in September by unveiling the contents of the time capsule that was buried in 1966. Inside, they found school records of the staff members that had been printed on a typewriter. They also found pictures and a wedding invitation of Joseph Perozi and his wife, Florence, the donors of the land that Langtree is built on.
Aside from looking back on the last 50 years of Langtree Elementary history, Gallo encouraged the students to look to the future and write down what they’d like to be doing 50 years from now. Every student in the school from Pre-K to 5th grade has a space in the book where they shared their future dreams, beginning with “In 50 years, I will be…”
It was a huge collaborative effort between Gallo, the teachers and the students to get the book organized, put together and sent off to the printing press where it was published.
“What I was most interested in was why they chose that,” Gallo said. “I wanted to get them to think reflectively on where they want to go in their future.”
The school community will commence the grand anniversary celebration at Langtree Elementary’s picnic on June 16. Langtree’s administration, teachers and PTA have been working together to make the celebration last all year long, calling it “The Triple 5s”—5th grade, 50th anniversary, five service projects.
The 5th graders usually participate in one service project each year where they give back to the community with their time and creativity. To celebrate this year, five service projects have been arranged and carried out throughout the school year, led by Denise Gutierrez, the service project coordinator for the 5th grade committee.
The PTA is working with Gutierrez and the 5th graders on the service projects and other celebratory events. Gena Graziano, one of the vice presidents of the PTA, said a trip to the township senior center to celebrate Valentine’s day was especially meaningful.
The students arrived at the senior center with handmade Valentines, snacks, games and enthusiastic dance moves. The dancing continued as the seniors treated the students to a dance lesson. More than 100 senior township members signed up.
“The students didn’t realize how much fun they were going to have at the senior center,” Graziano said.
Graziano’s 5th grade son, Daniel, has been participating in the service projects with his class. She said the celebration has been a good experience for the students because they’re learning about the history of the school and working with the community.
“They’re really grasping the idea of the 50th celebration,” she said.
Other service projects included “Thanksgiving Cheer,” a project where students decorated 180 placemats and paper flowers for the members of Meals on Wheels of Mercer County, a collection for the Trenton Salvation army “Socks, Snacks and Encouragements” where the students filled 200 pairs of new socks with encouragements like “You are stronger than you think” along with prepackaged crackers, cookies, fruit snacks, granola bars, etc. that were donated by the entire student body.
Students hand crafted holiday cards with messages to send to deployed soldiers from Joint Base McGuire-Dix for the “Holiday Happiness” project. Soldiers were also sent decorated blank cards that they could send home to their loved ones. The students chose their final service project, “Bulldogs helping Bulldogs” to honor of their school’s mascot, the bulldog. They will be making fleece blankets for the MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue.
As of this past fall, Langtree’s bulldog mascot now has a name. In addition to the 5th grade service projects, Gallo orchestrated a monthly celebration assembly to educate and excite the students of all grade levels. In October, she decided it would be fitting to let the students name their mascot. Ballots were cast, and now Plato the Bulldog represents the school in honor of his namesake, Plato the philosopher.