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Morley Families Take ‘Walk Through Time’ at 90th Anniversary Celebration

Louis Dube is a former student, parent, and current grandparent of a Morley student. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Edward W. Morley Elementary School, which first opened during the 1927-28 academic year as the Fern Street School, held a 90th anniversary celebration Wednesday.

At the end of the day of Morley’s 90th anniversary celebration, students and teachers form the number 90 on the field. Courtesy of Ryan Cleary

By Ronni Newton

Memories and laughter flowed freely and faces lit up as those attending Morley Elementary School’s 90th anniversary celebration reconnected with old friends and former teachers, or formed new bonds with current students and staff.

Principal Ryan Cleary estimated that approximately 100 people – in addition to students and staff – turned out to celebrate the 90th anniversary of their beloved school. Alumni as well as former parents and teachers joined today’s Morley community on the back field for an assembly Wednesday morning, and then were invited into the school where the students had prepared a walk through time of important moments in the school and town history throughout the past nine decades.

The choir sings “Me and My Shadow.” Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Music filled the air as well, as the Morley choir delighted the crowd with their rendition of two songs that were no. 1 hits in 1927: “Me and My Shadow” and “Accentuate the Positive,” and led a group sing of “Happy Birthday.”

“Did you know that 90 years ago when Morley first opened the streets that surround us right now were dirt roads?” said Morley’s Student Council president.

The sunny and warm morning was a great day for Morley’s birthday party, Superintendent Tom Moore said, but “I don’t think it looks a day over 80,” he joked.

While there have been some bad times since the school was built – like the stock market crash in 1929 – things always got better. “That’s something to always remember … you can stick it out through it all,” Moore said.

Louis Dube, a former student, parent of three Morley alumni, and current grandparent of a second-grader, said he was thrilled to be able to speak to the Morley students.

Dube said he started at Morley as a fourth-grader in the fall of 1955. He noted the things that were different – the playground where there was only one basketball hoop, really tall swings, and tetherball; there was no gymnasium; the hot lunches of meat, mashed potatoes, green vegetable, and gravy served on real plates; and chalkboards rather than whiteboards or smartboards.

While back then students walked to and from school all by themselves, Dube said he thinks it’s great the way the families now accompany their kids to and from school, creating a wonderful atmosphere of daily celebrations.

Morley’s stairs are grooved from 90 years of children’s feet walking up and down. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“High ceilings and wide hallways” are still here, Dube said. “The stairs are still here as well, and they show the wear of 90 years of children’s feet going up and down,” he said of the grooves worn in the slate surfaces.

“I’m proud to have been a Morley student in the 50s, I am proud to have been a parent of Morley students in the 80s, and I am proud to be a Morley grandparent in 2018,” Dube said. “I never dreamed that  life would work out this way. I am glad it did.”

Cleary said that Morley immediately felt like home when he arrived. “The reason why is simple – it’s the people.” Their stories are so similar in many ways, even the way the students are inspired by their teachers is something that has never changed.

Of course there are differences that are fun to learn about, like A.C. Petersen Farms delivering fresh milk every day, or when there weren’t any snow days, said Cleary.

“We still focus on Morley’s six character traits every day,” Cleary said, “kindness, caring, fairness, respect, responsibility, and citizenship.”

Former teacher Mrs. Sandy Later, who taught third grade at Morley for 36 years and attended the anniversary celebration, still comes back and teaches students each year about “credibility,” Cleary said.

“I’d like to thank this community for proving that credibility, character, and supporting each other is a successful way to lead a life,” said Cleary.

Walk Through Time starts with clippings about Morley’s construction plans. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

After the assembly, alumni and other guests were invited into the school to take a “Walk Through Time” that the students had prepared, with exhibits highlighting each decade beginning with the 1920s. There were yearbooks to peruse, and classrooms to visit, as well as a reception in the auditorium.

Many who attended were excited to reminisce, and the connections to Morley that they shared, many of which were multi-generational, were remarkable.

Lorry Wachtel Clayman and Marty Clayman will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year, but they met long before that.

Lorry, who attended Morley from the start, was in third grade when Marty came to the school as a fourth-grader. Neighborhood kids would congregate on the playground, and the summer when she was 11 and he was 12, he pushed her on the swings.

Marty and Lorry Clayman met as Morley students, have been married for nearly 60 years, and have a great granddaughter that will be a future Morley student. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“After that he said, ‘I want to talk to you,'” Lorry recalled. The pair rode on his bike from the back of the school to the front steps. “He asked me to the ‘Miss West Hartford Dance,'” Lorry said, and the rest is history.

Although their own children went to Norfeldt, the Clayman’s daughter and son-in-law bought Lorry’s parent’s former house on Auburn Road, and their children (Lorry and Marty’s grandchildren) Andrew and Spencer Glantz went to Morley.

Spencer Glantz and his wife recently moved back to West Hartford, and are living on Bretton, right across the street. The Clayman’s great granddaughter, Ayelet, will be the next generation of their family to go to Morley.

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Edward W. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Vyto and Angela Balskus live on Ballard and their daughter graduated from Morley in 1986. They bought their house in 1974 just to be in the Morley district. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Janice Falkin (seated in green jacket) attended Morley beginning in 1929. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Morley Choir. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Morley Choir. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Morley Choir sings “Accentuate the Positive.” Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student Council president. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student Council speakers. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Superintendent Tom Moore. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Louis Dube is a former student, parent, and current grandparent of a Morley student. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Former teacher Mrs. Sandy Later and her former student, Stuart Winograd. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student Council speaker. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Principal Ryan Cleary. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

1960s Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

1950s. Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time starts with clippings about Morley’s construction plans. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The 1920s. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The 1960s. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Walk Through Time. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

1970s display. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students show off their work to guests. Morley 90th anniversary celebration. June 6, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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2 Comments

  • Sorry I couldn’t be part of this fun event. I had Miss Wright for Kindergarten , Ms Mullaney for 2nd Miss Hill for 3rd. Ms Waggenheim for 4th Miss Fichman for 5th and Ms LaBonte for 6th. Had classes with Sandy Later Mr Anderson, Mr Woznicki, Our principal was Miss Foley. Great School

    • I was in a lot of the same classes with you, Bruce! Just the other day, I was quoting what Mr. Anderson taught us in 4th grade math: De denominator is on de bottom!

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