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Keene Mill Elementary Celebrates 50th Birthday

Keene Mill Kangaroos marks half century milestone.

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Splashdown! The highlight of the 50th anniversary celebration of Keene Mill Elementary School was the chance to dunk Principal Renee Miller, who was dropped in the water tank about a dozen times before the night was over. "These kids have great aim," Miller said.

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From left, Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock), Carol Millar, instructional assistant; Cluster 6 Superintendent Leslie Butz; Pat Nalitz, poet and former teacher; Peggy Ryan, WUSA 9 TV anchor and former KMES student; and Principal Renee Miller, kneeling.

Keene Mill Elementary School welcomed more than 300 students, parents, teachers and guests for its 50th "birthday" celebration Monday, June 4.

"The memories started flooding back the minute I walked down the halls," said Peggy Fox, a KMES alum, who went on to become a three-time Emmy award winning multi-media journalist who reports and anchors the news for WUSA 9 TV.

During a formal recognition ceremony, Fox entertained the crowd with stories of KMES when she attended the school, from 1969 to 1976.

"Listen, when I attended school here, Springfield was in the boonies. This was country. There was no Springfield Mall, no mixing bowl, no way," she said. She said Springfield was "so country" that her father bought her chickens as pets when she was in 5th grade. "But I have great memories of this school. I can remember every single teacher I had here, and I’m going to tell you."

Pat Nalitz, a former third-grade teacher who is known as the school’s poet laureate, read a special poem she wrote for the 50th birthday celebration:

"Listen my friends and you shall hear, of Keene Mill’s ride thru 50 years.

Remember when: P.E. didn’t have its unique space,

Music and Library in no special place.

Art just roamed about on a cart,

Computers hadn’t even been given a start!"

Nalitz, who taught at the school from 1987 to 2007, said the "camaraderie and spirit" of the school is something she will always remember. "People wanted to transfer here because it was so great," Nalitz said.

The Keene Mill Kangaroo, the school’s mascot, roamed the celebration, giving hugs and kisses to guests. The event featured a moon bounce, bowling, and a dunk tank where longtime P.E. teacher Stan Bragg and principal Renee Miller took turns getting dunked by students. Former principal Nick Rousos, who served from 2008 to 2011, said KMES will always be a special place for him.

"The kids here are so sweet and eager to learn. The parents weren’t just involved. They were involved and supportive. It doesn’t get any better than Keene Mill," Rousos said.