Ninety years ago, the year of 1921, Ettrick Elementary opened to serve a population and educate children from the surrounding rural and suburban communities. The school has been celebrating its 90th year since the start of the school year in September. Last Tuesday evening their 90th birthday was observed by the community with a celebration at the school inviting former administrators, teachers, students as well as current staff and students.
Over 100 guests attended to reflect and listen to memories of the platform speakers. Platform guests included Robin Robertson Littell, Teressa Clary, principal, Marleen Durfee, Matoaca District supervisor, Mary Thrift, assistant principal. Also on the platform were former principal Rebecca Branch, former assistant principal William Caten, former teacher Edith Gill, Lynne Johnson, kindergarten teacher, Derek Kelly and Jacqueline Ferguson, both former students.
The program opened with students from the fifth grade, clad in blue t-shirts commemorating the school’s 90th birthday, with the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem followed by the school’s chorus with entertaining song.
All of the returning alumni spoke about how close-knit the community was during their time at Ettrick and how it still is today and how happy they were to return for the celebration.
Rebecca Branch began her teaching career in 1951 and served as principal from 1970 to 1983. Recognizing many faces in the audience, she said, “I really enjoyed all my years here. I enjoyed it, because of the people here.”
Edith Gill was a teacher at Ettrick for 36 of her 44 years of teaching. She started in 1946 and retired in 1982. She reflected on many stories that happened during her tenure.
Former student Derek Kelly, who now attends Matoaca High School, said, “Being at Ettrick were some of the best years of my life.”
Following the speakers, guests retreated to the rear of the cafeteria to enjoy cake and look at memorabilia.
Ettrick’s student population is approximately 550 students with a staff of 75 teachers, administrators and support personnel. The population represents diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The close proximity of Virginia State University provides resource people and services in the form of consultants, student teachers, student tutors and educational media. It is one of four schools in Chesterfield County with a Communities in Schools Coordinator who coordinates volunteers and community services within the school.
For the first time, the school is proud to say they have one of their outstanding teachers to receive the R.E. B. Award for Teaching Excellence, sponsored by the R. E. B.
Foundation. First grade teacher, Jacqueline Coffey was awarded a grant of $12,000 to support her professional development and allow her to travel.