University Avenue Elementary celebrating 50 years

University Avenue Elementary is inviting alumni and former staff membrs to come back for the school’s 50th anniversary celebration Saturday, Sept. 29.

University Avenue Elementary School will hold a 50th anniversary celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. Submitted photo

University Avenue Elementary School will hold a 50th anniversary celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. Submitted photo

Debbie Blatz, University Avenue Elementary School volunteer coordinator, said they are planning for 500 people. They have been spreading the news about the event through word-of-mouth, social networking sites and articles.

There will be “700 or so” slides that were converted to a disk. These photos will be projected onto a screen in the gymnasium. Blatz said the deadline has passed for people to submit photos for inclusion in the ongoing slideshow, but visitors could bring other items to be placed on the memorabilia table.

Also in the gym will be ongoing musical performances by high school students.

Visitors will be able to take self-guided tours and reminisce with old teachers and classmates.

The school has undergone many changes since it opened a half-century ago. More recently at the start of the 2011-2012 school year, a 7,000 square-foot addition was completed and includes a new cafeteria, science lab, space for art and music classes, offices and rooms for supplemental on-site school programs.

Paul Tinquist, who was principal from the fall of 1980 through the spring of 1997, will be one of the former staff members in attendance.

“It’s a significant accomplishment that an elementary school has been in session for 50 years,” Tinquist said. He remembered times when there were general discussions about closing the school because many families were moving north as the suburbs expanded and families were having fewer children. Boundaries changed over time to reflect the changing demographics.

Tinquist was the principal when the school got its first computer. He remembers being asked whether he wanted it or if his secretary should get it. He recommended his secretary have the computer because she would need it the most when filling out paperwork. He preferred being out among the students and staff rather than sitting behind a computer.

A Facebook site was set up so messages and photos could be shared online. Search “University Ave. Elementary 50th Anniversary Celebration.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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