COLUMBIA, SC - Memories poured through a crowded assembly as Seven Oaks Elementary School celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sundayafternoon. About 500 former and current students, faculty and staff were on hand to listen and reminisce about times shared and lives impacted at Seven Oaks.
“I am so excited to be before you all today to celebrate this momentous occasion,” Seven Oaks Elementary School principal Harriet Wilson told the audience. “It is such an honor to be the Principal at Seven Oaks and to have you all here today means the world to me. Over the course of 50 years, Seven Oaks Elementary has had a profound impact on children’s lives and I know that will continue on with the wonderful staff we have today.”
School Board Chair, Robert Gantt welcomed the packed gymnasium. “What a special day for District Five, Seven Oaks Elementary and the entire community,” said Gantt. “This school has a legacy of excellence that I know will continue into the future.”
Principals from years past at Seven Oaks were in attendance, including the school’s second leader Dr. Tim Brown. “My time here at Seven Oaks was unlike any other because of the tremendous parent involvement and support,” Brown said, who led Seven Oaks from 1969-1972. “Having that support from parents and teachers working together makes a world of difference in education of children.”
Susan Smith, a teacher at Seven Oaks for 35 years, played a huge role in making this celebration happen. “SOES is more than just a school. This is family,” Smith said. “We all have stayed really close over the years and leaned on each other. To see this turn-out today means the world to me because it truly shows the passion people have for this place and the relationships they built along the way.” Larry Payne, the Seven Oaks and District Five Support Employee of the Year echoed Smith’s comments in his remarks. “Seven Oaks might not have it all together,” he said. “But, together we have it all!”
As part of the special program, current students at Seven Oaks performed popular music from the 1960’s. The audience were treated to many laughs as the student masters of ceremony introduced each song. “I wonder what kind of food they ate back then?” student Tiger Long asked. “Pizza!” student Kalieb Johnson replied. “How do you figure that?” Long asked. “Because their name was The Supremes!”
Larry Houk served as Principal at SOES for 19 years and was blown away when the students sang the school’s song. “The Seven Oaks song was created when I served as Principal here,” Houk said. “It was a contest geared towards families to write lyrics to the song. It is just a wonderful feeling to be here and hear the students at SOES today sing that song which brings back so many memories for me.”
The festivities concluded with a reception and tours of the school including the state-of-the-art production studio. Parents, students and staff past and present spent time reminiscing about the wonderful memories and bright future of Seven Oaks Elementary.