Parley’s Park Elementary has 25 candles on its cake
Cake and ice cream were on the menu at Parley’s Park Elementary School, but not for lunch. Wednesday night the community celebrated the school’s 25th birthday.
Parley’s Park opened its doors in January of 1981, after staff moved into the new building over Christmas break.
Fifth-grade teacher Anne Jackman put the event together with the help of the student council.
In addition to root beer floats, the fifth-grade band provided musical entertainment, students gave school tours and visitors were treated to a slide show and a timeline displayed down one of the halls which included old articles from The Park Record and pictures provided by staff and parents.
gone traditions at the school include an annual hike up Thaynes Canyon, a pumpkin patch in the field around Halloween time, and releasing balloons during Park City’s Autumn Aloft.
"When Park City had their Autumn Aloft the kids used to put messages inside helium balloons and let them go," Jackman said, adding that sometimes they got responses.
The school pioneered Smile Lab, a program they had for three years which integrated math and science.
"We had people from all over the state come and observe it," Jackman said.
Other highlights have included when the fourth-grade choir presented, "Utah" on the 100th celebration of statehood in 1996. That same year teacher Pat Horyna was named Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher in the region.
There used to be an arts festival held at Parley’s Park and the school has changed mascots four times starting with potguts to Peewee Miners to Superstars and finally Falcons.
When asked about how much has changed over the years Jackman, a teacher for 21 years explained, "the use of technology and the expansion, trying to keep up with the growth and keeping the quality of education we’ve always had."
That evening the school honored Nancy Stark, a first-grade teacher who has been there since Parley’s Park Elementary opened its doors.
"She has been here since the school started and no one else can say that, or will be able to say that again. She’s a special lady," Jackman said.
Stark, who will retire at the end of this year, remembers the face of every student she has had.
"Certainly we’ve grown larger but each staff member, each child that’s come along has added something to it," Stark said.
Another change she has seen over the years is the development of the land surrounding the school, which she said was country in the beginning.
She also noted the addition of a growing Spanish-speaking population at the school. Stark said people will spend thousands of dollars at a private school to get exposure to another language and culture, but Parley’s students are fortunate to have the experience for very little.
"Our new Spanish-speaking students have brought a wonderful gift," she said.
Both Jackman and Stark said the technology has changed dramatically over the years.
One thing that seems to have remained the same is the students.
"They have the same excitement with new ideas that children always come with," Stark said.
Student council member and fifth-grader Brooke Newhall agreed.
"I think the students were just the same happy kids," Newhall said, "Our clothes are definitely different."
She said one thing that makes Parley’s Park special is its school spirit, as evidence of that over half the student attendees wore blue, a school color.
"Parley’s Park has a spirit, I’ve talked to kids at other schools who say there is a spirit here."
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Daniel Lewis, an Old Town resident who unsuccessfully sought a spot on the Park City Council in 2019, said this week he will mount another campaign this year.