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Jackson students and staff sing the school song in the media center, to the appreciation of attendees, near the beginning of the two-hour open house to celebrate the elementary's first 50 years. Hanging from the ceiling are some of the student art work - mimicking the style of famous 1960s artists such as Peter Max or Andy Warhol - that was produced in the classroom of art teacher Jackie Robbie.
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Art, song, history enliven Jackson Elementary's 50-year anniversary

Anne Dancy, the Jackson Elementary principal from 1990 to 2011, speaks to the audience in the school's media center after being introduced by current Principal Sara Miller (standing at left) during the 50th anniversary celebration April 20.
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April 25, 2018
       In a festive evening attended by hundreds April 20, Jackson Elementary celebrated a half-century as a District 11 school in Holland Park.
       Attendees were treated to speeches from the current and previous principal (whose combined tenure spans 32 of those years); musical performances (including the recently revived school song); school-related news clippings; photos and other memorabilia; and student displays/art work reflecting grade-by-grade, decade-by-decade research into worldwide social and cultural events, going back to when Jackson opened in 1966.
       The school media center was festooned with student art based on 1960s styles - a project led by art teacher Jackie Robbie that included kid-stylized land-line phones
Jackie Robbie, Jackson Elementary's volunteer art teacher for 18 of her 27 years there, is joined on a 1960s-style "phone call" with long-time classroom helper Jean McKanna during the school's 50th celebration event. The various "phones" were made by Robbie's students as part of their research into the changing times in the years between the school's 1966 opening and the present.
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based on an era that was pre-Internet... even pre-answering machine.
       At the school for 27 years, Robbie has gained renown for teaching art as a volunteer for the last 19 of them (and guiding many students to awards) - while insisting that the lack of bureaucracy is more desirable than a paycheck. Donations and fundraisers cover the bulk of the costs.
       Enjoying the evening with her was Jean McKanna, who has been volunteering at Jackson (helping Robbie most of those years) since 1980 when her son started going there. Later her daughter attended Jackson and had Robbie for a teacher. That daughter now “has a degree in fine
Preparing for Jackson's half-century celebration, each grade level studied a decade from that time period. The photo above shows 1990s sports-related poster boards in the classroom of fourth-grade teacher Marlee Cox.
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arts because of her” (Robbie), McKanna enthused.
       During a standing-room-only ceremony in the media center early in the two-hour open house, Sara Miller, who has been principal since 2011, welcomed the throng, saying their support “means more to us than you'll ever know.”
       She summarized the school's history and academic format changes over the years. Built initially to accommodate the then-new Holland Park subdivision, the school originally was designed in the trendy - long since abandoned - open-classroom concept.
       In recent years, enrollment has nearly doubled (about 430 now) as Jackson has absorbed students in the closures of once-neighboring elementaries Pike, Lincoln and Bates. In 2016 it became
A committee of staff and volunteers sorted through folders and boxes of news clippings, photos and other memorabilia from Jackson's first 50 years. Much of what they uncovered wound up on poster boards, such as this one.
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the district's only certified AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) school. (AVID, according to website information, is a national nonprofit program that supports school staff in guiding students of all backgrounds to the kinds of behavior and thinking skills that could lead them to college.)
       Pleased applause greeted the person Miller introduced: Anne Dancy, who had been the school principal for 21 years before retiring in 2011. “When I left, I wasn't sure what was going to happen,” Dancy said. But she expressed pleasure that Jackson students “continue to learn and to grow”; and she added praise for building manager Tomas Chavez for looking after the school's upkeep. “I'm very, very proud to continue to be a Jackson Jaguar,” she concluded.
       Later in the evening, school staff surprised Dancy by revealing that the hallway in the newer wing of the school (the 2009 addition) has been named after her.
Three generations of "Jacksonians" (clockwise from upper left): Debbie Hankins, her daughter Adrienne and grandchildren Charlotte and Royce.
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Jokingly, she commented to the Westside Pioneer that “they didn't even ask” if she'd like such an honor, then added with a smile that she doesn't mind “so much.”
       Among those on hand for the celebration was Debbie Hankins, a 17-year school secretary who retired in 2014. She was joined by the second and third generations of her family that have connections to Jackson. Her daughter, Adrienne Cooper, went to the school, volunteered there during college and has taught first grade for the past two years in this, her second spell at the school between her husband's deployments. Her kids, Royce (fourth grade) and Charlotte (kindergarten), are students there now.
       “I love, love, love this school,” Cooper said. “With the people here, the staff and the families, it feels like home.”
       Hankins herself has stayed involved since retiring. She was part of a 50th Anniversary Committee that Miller credited for pulling the event together. The committee lead was kindergarten teacher Amanda Martinez. Other members were Tricia Shirola, Debbie Tuxhorn, Carrie Hart, Desiree Leonard, Ashley Eilert, Jackie Robbie and Linda Wilson.
       As for the school song, Miller said it had been “dormant for many years until we revived it again four years ago” - the melody fortunately having remained in the memories of some of the committee members.

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(Schools: Elementary/Middle)

A drone photo this spring featured students and staff standing in the school yard to spell out the initials to their school's full name - Andrew Jackson. The Holland Park neighborhood is in the background.
Courtesy of Jackson Elementary

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