Guest Author: Amy Evans Liikala ’73
As far back as I can remember, I loved going to school. Stepping on the bus with my plaid lunch box, my neighbors and I travelled down Route 20 to Clyde C. Hadden Elementary School, which was actually close to home but felt far away from our small neighborhood. Pulling into the arched driveway (in on the right, out on the left), Mr. Rippin would send us in the front doors, imploring us to have a smart day. Even though the building opened in 1929, everything about the school was new and exciting for an anxious first grader, entering the school in 1961.
Once inside the school, we scattered to all reaches of the building. Worn tiles and steps, burnished handrails, old glass windows, cloak rooms, and antique wooden classroom doors led us to classrooms full of wonder and excitement. For someone starting first grade, Hadden was huge and imposing. It would be my home school for the next six years.
There was always something to stimulate our senses. On our way into Hadden, we were all met with the scents of school. Paper, ditto machines, books, science projects, kids, lunch, gym, paint, floor wax all combined to create that wonderful, familiar school smell. Each morning we listened to Mr. Paxton on the PA system, with his booming voice, updating us on daily events. Artwork hung on the walls, and bulletin boards were full of student work from every grade. Books were everywhere, on classroom shelves, and in the office, as well as in our school library, which was a glorified storage closet. Daily lunch was served in the gym/cafeteria and featured a varied menu prepared by lunch ladies in the kitchen. All grades sat in the gym at long tables, while the teachers had their own “special” table at the end of the gym under one of the basketball hoops.
If the building was welcoming and comfortable for us, the teachers made it our home away from home. They were the guides through our formative years of education, both academic and social. Mrs. Toan introduced me to Dick and Jane and planted the seeds for my lifelong love of reading. Miss Collins was fun and made math interesting. Mrs. Ulrich was full of science knowledge and gave us all a love of plants, along with lots of cuttings to start our own gardens.
We were thrilled when we were finally in a class that was on the second floor. Miss Czayka made social studies come alive. Miss Ames treated us like “big kids” and we loved her for it. She even invited the whole class to her wedding. Mrs. Perrault was a master at instilling self-confidence, creativity, and discipline while getting us ready to be launched into junior high school. Mrs. Herman, Mr. Price, and Mr. Brewster provided music, art, and gym experiences to add to our elementary education. These teachers and many other staff members were a continual source of encouragement, knowledge, and kindness within the walls of Hadden Elementary School.
The schools of the district have now been consolidated and the future of Hadden may be unknown. Time marches on and progress toward the future continues. While the future for Clyde C. Hadden School may be uncertain, it will certainly not be a school disremembered. Even today, when I drive by the school, I smile as a memory or two flickers through my mind. The smell of the building, the laughter of friends, the shiny brass hooks to hang our coats on, a teacher’s hug, recess in any weather, no matter what, clapping erasers, looking down on the gym from windows above. Thanks for the memories. Clyde C. Hadden Elementary School will not be soon forgotten.