Children lined up in front of the movie projector, excitedly shouting out the names of their friends and whispering about the strange hair styles of students in the 1950s.
As Crestwood Elementary School celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday, Oct. 12, it was a time to look back on how things have changed since the school opened in 1956 and realize that even after half a century, some things stay the same.
Take, for example, Eleanor Williams.
Williams has worked in the cafeteria at Crestwood since the school opened. She spent the first three years as a volunteer, making sure each child sat at the correct table in the cafeteria every day. She was then hired on to be the school’s cafeteria hostess, a position she retains to this day.
To honor Williams for her dedication to the school, principal Judy Thompson and Crestwood PTA president Vickie Kline presented her with a token of their gratitude on Thursday night: the school’s cafeteria has been named in her honor.
“Oh, this is wonderful,” said Williams, joined by her son, Mickey, a former Crestwood student who flew home from Emerald Hills, Calif. to be with his mother on her special night. “It’s been such a joy working here, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Citing Eleanor Williams’ love of children, Kline said the decision was made to honor her with the dedication of the cafeteria, where for 50 years she has greeted children every day.
“She has enriched the Crestwood community with her unwavering dedication to the community for the past 50 years,” Kline said. “She is the essence of the school, the essence of the cafeteria by providing so many fond memories that former students carry and current students will take with them.”
SITTING WITH his mother before her surprise was revealed, Mickey Williams said he wouldn’t miss the school’s anniversary celebration for anything.
“I think it’s lots bigger now. The school didn’t have a gym or the office in the front when I was a student here,” he said. “I think the kids look older than when I was here too. But otherwise, it still feels the same.”
Mickey Williams had flown back to the East Coast and was waiting for his mother in her home when she returned from work, Eleanor Williams said.
“It was a wonderful surprise,” she said. “I went home and he was there.”
The highlight of the ceremony was a slide show, featuring pictures of Crestwood’s history from the first day of school in 1956 through current students.
Children laughed when looking at yearbook photos showing teachers with cat’s eye glasses and beehive hairdos, popular in the mid-to-late 1950s. When they started to see familiar faces, many shouted out “There’s Jill!” or “Look, it’s Sasha!” and giggling with their friends.
When a picture of Williams came on the screen, the students, along with the parents and teachers gathered with them, began to clap and cheer.
U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) and Del. Vivian Watts (D-39) both stopped by the celebration with proclamations congratulating Crestwood on its anniversary. Davis also brought two flags that had flown over the U.S. Capitol Building, one for Crestwood principal Judy Thompson and one for Eleanor Williams.
“This has been a highlight for all our families and community members to celebrate our flourish and exciting place,” Thompson said. “People are coming together to really make this something special.”