Peter Piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers in the fairy tale, but in McLean, Peter Piper has educated hundreds of children. Peter Piper Preschool celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Oct. 3 with a childrenÕs party that brought current students and generations of past students to the facility to revel in the school's achievements.
ÒWhatÕs amazing to me is that there are a lot of kids here who arenÕt even in Peter Piper. They are Peter Piper kids-to-be,Ó said Stacey Meyers. ÒItÕs not uncommon for two or three kids in a family to attend Peter Piper.Ó
Peter Piper Preschool is located on a secluded lot on a hill on Springhill Road. The grounds are shaded with old-growth trees that block out the noise from the street and give it privacy. Students cross a wooden bridge, then trek up a wide gravel path under the canopy of the trees to get to the school and playgrounds.
WHEN THE school was first started, five decades ago, it was run out of a house in McLean behind what is today the Giant Gourmet. Lynda OÕBryan has been running Peter Piper Preschool for the last 30 years from its current location.
ÒI hope we can continue to provide a developmental, enriched preschool education for years to come,Ó said OÕBryan. She credits the staff and families of the pupils for sustaining the school through so many years.
Helen Waugh taught at the preschool for 10 years before retiring. She returned to the fun fair to reconnect with former students and old friends. ÒI just love the environment here. The teachers are great, and the children all seem to love it,Ó said Waugh.
More than 100 people turned out for the event, which featured face painting, clowns, and brightly colored animal balloons, as well as rides, games and cotton candy.
Pier Coyne attended the fun fair with her daughter, who currently attends the preschool. Coyne is a graduate of Peter Piper Preschool and says that when deciding on her daughter's first school, having her little girl attend her alma matter was natural. ÒItÕs a beautiful place for them to be. ItÕs nice and quiet here. I didnÕt want a militant place for her, someplace that was sterile. I wanted a place, this is the first time I put my daughter in preschool, I wanted a place that would be nurturing and stimulating for her,Ó said Coyne. ÒAnd when I came to look at it, it looked the same, and Mrs. OÕBryan was still here.Ó
THE STUDENT body of Peter Piper Preschool has changed over the years, according to OÕBryan. ÒI think they are smarter now,Ó she said with a laugh. She has the opportunity to observe the students daily because she still teaches the 3-year-olds and plans on doing that Òindefinitely.Ó
ÒWe have a very international group of children here now because of where we live. They come from all over. Their parents are diplomats, with the World Bank, places like that,Ó said OÕBryan. The diversity has not changed Peter PiperÕs formula for educating young people. ÒThey learn very quickly by interacting with their peers. IÕm amazed at the continued enthusiasm of children to learn, sing and play together the way they do,Ó said OÕBryan.
Editor's Note: Meredith Billman-Mani attended Peter Piper Preschool.