The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It was 50 years ago when Fleetwood Elementary School opened its doors to children in Mt. Laurel. The school opened to help end double-sessions in the district’s other elementary schools.
Today, the school remains open, sitting down a small hill on Fleetwood Avenue near Creek Road. And while many students and teachers have come and gone through its doors, much of the community and its families have remained the same.
Fleetwood Elementary School held a school reunion on May 31 celebrating its 50th anniversary. Students, teachers, parents and anyone affiliated with the school throughout its 50 years was invited to attend.
Stephanie Sawyer, co-president of the school’s PTO and a member of the 50th anniversary committee, said entire families came out as many families have lived in the Fleetwood area for many years.
“Fleetwood School has a lot of second-generation families,” Sawyer said. “I knew there would be a lot of people interested.”
Sawyer’s family has had multiple generations attend the school. Sawyer was a member of the Fleetwood class of 1982 and currently has a second-grader at the school.
Her family roots and involvement in the school today was a big reason she got involved in the celebration.
“I wanted to be a part of that,” Sawyer said. “I just wanted to make it the best it could be.”
The school has changed very little since its opening. An addition was put on the building in the 1980s, but the building is otherwise the same.
Likewise, the community is made up of multi-generation families who have stayed in Mt. Laurel through their childhood and into adulthood.
“The community feeling is still there, that’s what made the event so great,” Sawyer said. “We had so many people come out, we were so pleased.”
Social media made it easy to coordinate the event and invite people who have moved away from Mt. Laurel.
“Most of the people we got through Facebook,” Sawyer said. “Fleetwood School already had a page and we transferred a lot of people onto that page.”
Alumni and former teachers were also invited through word of mouth and mailed invitations. Sawyer said the committee got a ton of responses back.
“We had teachers there that were teaching there when Fleetwood opened and current teachers,” she said “We had members of the very first class of Fleetwood up to current kindergarteners.”
Part of the ceremony included the opening of a time capsule, inserted into the school’s cornerstone 50 years ago. While some of the contents in the capsule suffered water damage, the committee was able to dry a few items. A newspaper from the school’s opening is currently being displayed inside the school.
Even though the celebration has ended, the 50th anniversary committee’s work isn’t over. Members are working to gather items for a new time capsule to be opened in 50 more years.