New Harmony school’s nine recently retired teachers were honored at a dinner at Hacienda restaurant on Tuesday, July 12 hosted by Carolyn Stone and Becky Smyth. The two long-time retirees of the school gave the nine new members of this Elite Club a magnetic star with a bell on it and a placard proclaiming “You Are A Star at NHS”.
After dinner and conversation about the final days of the school closing, Becky Smyth the official “poet laureate” of New Harmony School read her latest composition.
It was a poem in the form of a letter to the nine who worked “in the land of big blue” and what each would be remembered for at school. As tears welled up in many an eye, she gently ended with the reminder that “we all now must move on to life’s next endeavor. Our memories of New Harmony School are forever”.
Becky, reknowned for her rock collections, then gave each retiree a rock that reminded her of each person and why to add a little comic relief after the emotional poem. Fast-paced Fifth Grade Teacher Rita Reynolds received a rock shaped like a comma to remind her to pause and slow down and enjoy her retirement. Technology Teacher Sherry Underwood’s sailboat-shaped rock reminded her to sail away and relax on her beloved ocean. Kindergarten teacher Peggy Meyer received a snowflake obsidian rock because she loved her snow days with the children.
Golf enthusiasts Social Studies Teacher Rick Johnson and Third Grade Teacher Lisa Smith both were given rocks with a “hole in one” in them to get luck as they play.
Science Teacher Lois Gray’s rock had a Bigfoot footprint on the back of it and two scary eyes on the front to remind her of the many haunted houses her Science Club put on through the years.
Sixth Grade Teacher Fred Frayser received the “Forever Rappite” blue and white rock as he was a student and teacher at the school. Both Fourth Grade Teacher Connie Wilson and Special Needs Teacher Dianna Simkins received small perfectly formed “nest egg” rocks to commemorate their long years of service. The rocks will be treasured by all retirees.
As goodbyes were said, all retirees agreed to meet on the first Tuesday of every month starting in September to visit with each other and their “rocks of remembrance”.
Dear Connie, Rita, Fred, Rick, Sherry, Lisa, Lois, Peggy and Dianna,
Old Hacienda on First Avenue
A familiar place to meet up with you
Mrs. Stone and I thought this place would be fine
To visit and honor the “Fabulous Nine”.
Congratulations, Colleagues, tonight is for you
To celebrate your work in the land of big blue.
First Connie Wilson, Girl, you rock!
Forty-one years you’ve been on the school’s clock!
Second grade, fourth grade, cultural arts,
Stuffing tissue and cotton on displays and charts.
Fred and Rita came next – a good thing for us
Watching the playground, getting kids on the bus.
Fred in fifth grade, being principal, then art,
Sixth grade and DC, you’ve done your part.
Rita in third grade, fifth grade and math,
Never has any grass grown in your path.
Coaching, singing, scheduling and leading
And not neglecting your spelling and reading.
Rick came along to replace Mr. Woods
Big shoes to fill, you delivered the goods.
You coached many sports, you sponsored the classes
Made major decisions of who fails and who passes.
Lisa taught fourth grade, then moved to third
At Thanksgiving her class cooked a big bird!
Also some pies and deer meat and bread,
While keeping good track of the books that you read.
Sherry came next to teach business and coach
Trained in volleyball’s proper approach.
Typewriters were in then and floppies were new
There have been many changes in all that you do.
We control our computers with touch pads and mice
Flash drives, memory cards– they all are so nice.
Our biology lab just fit Lois Gray
Science became an exciting part of the day.
Your hands-on activities, the critters you kept,
Science Fair, clubs, the students you helped.
Mrs. Stone retired, Peggy Meyer came then.
She came in to work like the Little Red Hen.
When something needed done, “I will,” she would say.
Then did it well, she did things this way.
Her kindergarten kids were learning big words,
Writing in their journals, studying rocks and the birds.
Then Dianna came to New Harmony School’s team
To help special kids fit back in the stream.
She lived in the large room down by the gym
Soon Mr. Kahle had her helping him.
Many years have gone by, days lively and bright
You went home exhausted but had more work at night
Ballgames, conferences, plans to be made
Life cut short at home with papers to grade.
In the lives of your students, you’ve played a big part
They will always have memories of you in their heart.
With wisdom, encouragement, patience and pride
In good times and bad, you were there by their side.
We all now must move on to life’s next endeavor
Our memories of New Harmony School are forever.
From your friends,
Becky Smyth and Carolyn Stone