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.
â€œShe 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,â€ said Stephanie Sullenger, president of the Kent Gardens Parent Teacher Association (PTA). â€œShe received her education from Beloit College, Northwestern University and the University of Virginia.â€
Kingman is just one of many former Kent Gardens community members who is looking forward to the schoolâ€™s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration. The yearlong festivities kick off on Friday, Oct. 12 with a special Founderâ€™s Day celebration at the school.
â€œItâ€™s going to be at 10 a.m. on our blacktop,â€ said Sullenger. â€œThatâ€™s the day that weâ€™re really going to kick off and celebrate our 50th anniversary. A proclamation will be read, weâ€™ll have past staff and administrators there â€¦ weâ€™re inviting as many people as we can.â€
Sullenger said the event will be fun and â€œkind of hokey,â€ as the current Kent Gardens staff plans to celebrate with a decade by decade musical presentation.
â€œThey will be lip-synching to a Beatles song, Aretha Franklin will be there, and I think Elvis Presley is going to make an appearance,â€ said Sullenger with a laugh. â€œWe want the celebration to tell them a little bit about their history â€” not only about their school, but about the world around them as well.â€
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.
â€œEverything that we do is going to be kind of peppered with the 50th anniversary,â€ said Sullenger. â€œNothing is written in stone yet â€” people are just starting to get going on all of this.â€
Mary Kingman has nothing but fond memories of the school.
"I really think itâ€™s the best elementary school in the county," said Kingman. "I think itâ€™s so great â€” they have all sorts of activities for kids these days."