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Five Decades in McLean

Kent Gardens Elementary School prepares to kick off its 50th anniversary with Oct. 12 Founder’s Day celebration.

McLean resident Mary Kingman began her teaching career at Kent Gardens Elementary School in 1958, just one year after the school opened its doors. She taught fifth and sixth grade for the next 22 years.

“She was very unusual for her time, bringing a bachelors of science as well as a degree in registered nursing to her role at Kent Gardens,” said Stephanie Sullenger, president of the Kent Gardens Parent Teacher Association (PTA). “She received her education from Beloit College, Northwestern University and the University of Virginia.”

Kingman is just one of many former Kent Gardens community members who is looking forward to the school’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration. The yearlong festivities kick off on Friday, Oct. 12 with a special Founder’s Day celebration at the school.

“It’s going to be at 10 a.m. on our blacktop,” said Sullenger. “That’s the day that we’re really going to kick off and celebrate our 50th anniversary. A proclamation will be read, we’ll have past staff and administrators there … we’re inviting as many people as we can.”

Sullenger said the event will be fun and “kind of hokey,” as the current Kent Gardens staff plans to celebrate with a decade by decade musical presentation.

“They will be lip-synching to a Beatles song, Aretha Franklin will be there, and I think Elvis Presley is going to make an appearance,” said Sullenger with a laugh. “We want the celebration to tell them a little bit about their history — not only about their school, but about the world around them as well.”

The school is still in the process of planning future events for the coming year. In addition, Sullenger said a special 50th anniversary yearbook is in the works.

“Everything that we do is going to be kind of peppered with the 50th anniversary,” said Sullenger. “Nothing is written in stone yet — people are just starting to get going on all of this.”

Mary Kingman has nothing but fond memories of the school.

"I really think it’s the best elementary school in the county," said Kingman. "I think it’s so great — they have all sorts of activities for kids these days."