TROY — Concord Elementary School celebrated its 100th anniversary with an open house on Saturday.
The event, which was open to the public, included a tour of the building — either self-guided or with a student council member escort — and gave visitors an opportunity to look through old photos and yearbooks from the school’s past.
Assistant Principal Joyce Koopman said the school began brainstorming last year about how to commemorate the milestone. She said an open house allowed former students of Concord, along with anyone who has a connection with the school, to reflect on the time they spent there.
“It’s been really neat to talk to former students, staff and teachers, and to hear their stories. It’s almost a service to the community to give them a chance to talk and reminisce,” Koopman said. “Also, from a student council perspective, for those young kids to be walking and talking with an older generation while sharing a Concord connection; that was a great opportunity for them and fun to see.”
One former Concord Comet, whose attendance on Saturday is especially noteworthy, was Mabel Cain.
Cain, a 105-year-old resident of Troy, was a member of Concord’s introductory first grade class in 1921. Though the building was officially constructed in 1919, it was not completed and ready to accept students until the beginning of 1921.
“We started school here in January,” Cain said. “I had walked to my old school, which was on the corner of Monroe Concord Road and Swailes Road. I rode the bus when I started at Concord and I was scared to death. It was far away from home and I didn’t know anybody.”
Born in February 1914, Cain grew up on her parents’ 50-acre farm on Monroe Concord Road in Troy. She had one sister and three brothers.
Though it’s been over a century since nearly a century since she began her education at Concord, Cain is still able to recollect specific memories of her time there.
“My teacher was Mrs. McMacken, and we studied things like how to take care of yourself and keep your hands clean,” Cain said. “(McMacken) wrote all the letters and numbers on the board and we had to copy them.”
Cain said she recalls being very shy and bashful as a child, so much so that she was reprimanded for it.
“One day, I had to stand by the wall because I wouldn’t talk,” she said. “I was just afraid to talk, but I had to stand there until I would talk to (the teacher).”
Cain’s most treasured memories of her time at Concord also include playing on new swings and teeter-totters during recess, as well as meeting her lifelong best friend, Lottie Speakman. It was Speakman, Cain said, who introduced her to her future husband, Ward, after high school.
“We were best friends all our lives,” Cain said of Speakman. “And I miss her.”
Cain went on to have one daughter, JoAnn Cain (Frantz), who also experienced a “first” at Concord in the early 1950s.
“I was part of the first kindergarten class at Concord,” Frantz said. “Before that, kindergarten wasn’t offered most places, as far as I know, and I was the first of my older cousins to go.”
Frantz also shared the story of a Concord tradition started by her parents, Mabel and Ward.
“My parents lived on a small farm and had ponies, so starting when I was in kindergarten, they had the kindergarten class from here at Concord come out and take pony rides,” Frantz said. “Mom would make cookies and Kool-Aid, her friends would come and help serve, and daddy would take off work and give everyone pony rides.”
Frantz said the tradition of inviting the Concord kindergarten class to the Cain’s farm for pony rides lasted 13 years.
According to Principal Dan Hake, Saturday’s event, which is estimated to have drawn a crowd of about 100 people throughout the afternoon, was a success.
“I’m very impressed by the turn out, and what I think is really neat is the age span between visitors,” Hake said. “We have seen people around 95 years old — and of course, Mabel, who is 105 — as well as young families with children just starting out here. It’s exciting to see the tradition of Concord continue through the years and our goal is to keep that going.”
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