Arrowhead celebrates 50 years

Arrowhead Elementary celebrated its 50th anniversary with a homecoming celebration April 25.

Arrowhead Elementary celebrated its 50th anniversary with a homecoming celebration April 25.

The event brought in generations of alumni, faculty and staff for an evening laced with nostalgia.

Highlights included a video presentation with interviews from past principals, a display of old pictures and news clippings and tours of the school to demonstrate how the campus has changed.

“It’s a great moment to pause and reflect and take a look at the history of our school and what makes it such an excellent place to be,” said Arrowhead Principal Pete Misner.

Kenmore Mayor David Baker helped kick things off by proclaiming April 25 as the city’s official “Arrowhead Elementary Day.”

Arrowhead opened its doors in 1957, entering what was then the Bothell School District.

It was a rocky beginning.

Construction of the building was not quite complete when students arrived for their first day, and the school had neither plumbing nor desks.

Children sat on floors during class, and staff had to truck lunch dishes up to Kenmore Elementary every day for cleaning.

A news article displayed during the homecoming celebration revealed that the school was nearly shut down around that time because of sewage-disposal issues.

Arrowhead survived, and today boasts some rather modern amenities that were all on display during the school tour.

Alumni saw the interactive whiteboards that have replaced chalk boards, and also explored the school’s relatively high-tech library, which used to be a dome-shaped gym.

That’s where Arrowhead used to hold its drama events.

Debbie Montague, who taught music at the school as “Ms. Henry” from 1974-79, recalled putting on “The Wizard of Oz.”

“We actually melted the witch,” she said. “It was pretty cool.”

Montague said she was looking forward to catching up with Dick Geiger, the second of six people who have served as Arrowhead principals.

“He was just a fantastic administrator and person,” she said. “He knew every child in the school by face and name.”

Former principal Paulette Payseno-Kipp sought out Don Briggs, a student from her very first class whose own children later attended the school.

She began her career as a teacher at Arrowhead from 1964-68.

“This is a school that people have always been proud of,” she said. “They tend to come back to the area when they have kids.”

Arrowhead PTA members have spent over a year planning commemoration activities for the school.

Their efforts began in late 2006 with fund-raising for the purchase of new playground equipment that was installed before the start of the 2007-08 school year.

“The old structure was in really bad shape,” said Arrowhead PTA member Polly Shinner, who led planning for the anniversary. “There were handles missing and pieces of metal sticking out.”

PTA members also helped coordinate the video project — produced by teachers Deborah Henderson and Carolyn Olson — collected memorabilia for a time capsule and put together a cookbook with recipes and artwork from Arrowhead students.

All that on top of planning the actual celebration.

“It felt like a wedding,” Misner said. “It shows the dedication that makes our school what it’s been for the past 50 years.”