CARTHAGE, Mo. — A crowd gathered at Steadley Elementary School on Sunday afternoon to celebrate its 25 years in the Carthage School District.
In his last year before retirement, Principal Dr. Tom Barlow welcomed the crowd to enjoy memories, see the changes and of course honor the people who have devoted years to education in this building. He has served this school for the past 13 years, and doesn’t hesitate to admit – he gets misty-eyed thinking of his “Steadley family.”
“In the garden out front we have a new bench and it’s dedicated to all the staff members – past, present and future – who all pour their hearts into countless kids,” Barlow said. “It’s not about the building – it’s about the people.”
Also speaking at the event was Dr. Mark Baker – the R-9 superintendent anticipating his retirement after this year as well. He wanted to note the construction of the Steadley school in 1997 was made possible through bond issues the community passed, with nods to generous donations from the Steadley family.
The crowd enjoyed stories from 25 years ago, when students and staff members were bussed from Hawthorne and Eugene Field schools to the new building on HH. Fifth grade teacher Robin Law noted it was her first school to have air conditioning. Secretary Debbie Loop noted it was the end of mold, termites, asbestos and cold air sneaking in from around her window at her desk. The bright, new school housed approximately 750 students K-6 and was instantly loved from the moment they walked in the doors.
“Those were my favorite years of my career,” Loop said. “We were blessed and continued to be blessed to have principals who prayed. They prayed for the staff and the kids’ wellbeing. When tragedy strikes, when families are broken – you could always feel the support in times of crisis.”
Twenty-five years brought all sorts of changes, and educator Jenny Starchman saw every one of them – always – from room 207.
“I’m the only one here from 25 years ago and I’m the only one still in the same room,” she told the crowd with a laugh. “It’s the people who made Steadley a special place. We helped shape the kids’ lives and boy did they change ours.”
Among the first group of third graders (25 years ago) was Stacy Hagensieker … she’s now a third grade teacher at Steadley.
As she held onto her little one with a big smile, she said, “it’s so cool how it all circled back to where it started for me here.”
The crowd took a big group photo to be placed inside the time capsule, which will be buried on Nov. 17. As of now, no one knows for sure when the time capsule will be re-visited in the future.