The Joan De Arc

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Phoenix, Arizona / Saturday, December 25, 2010
Founded AD 1968 / $10.00

©  2010 by JPB Publishing Ltd.

Avenue Weather: Partly cloudy with possible late afternoon showers. High 75 / Low 47

On the INSIDE: Editorials A2 / Nostalgia A3  / Christmas A4 / Crossword A5


Sahuaro celebrates half a century

 (BP) –   Sahuaro Elementary School, that enduring neighborhood titan of academic excellence and community enterprise, last month observed its 50th anniversary with an extravagant celebration at the school.

     An estimated crowd of over 1000 current and former students, teachers, parents and neighbors filled the parking lot, halls, classrooms and library of the venerable old school on November 6 for the anniversary observance.

     Festivities kicked off with a colorful and emotional opening ceremony in the school’s parking lot, as the standing-room-only crowd witnessed a parade of school and district officials sing the praises of the legendary institution and its many milestones and achievements. An entertaining procession of both current students and alumni then lined up to place various mementoes and classroom projects into a Sahuaro time capsule. The capsule was later "buried" beneath the stage in the school cafeteria.

     The eventful opening ceremony began with an ensemble of current and former Sahuaro student chorus members delivering a stirring rendition of the national anthem. Principal Dave Anderson then stepped to the podium to offer his introductory remarks. Anderson, who has been Sahuaro’s principal since 1994, recalled the immediate sense he got of the exceptional nature of Sahuaro and its surrounding community as he began working at the school. “I could tell right away that I had come to a very special place,” he said.

Just like old times: Former Sahuaro teacher Ed Trout delivers stern lecture to former student Sue Bueker Strommen in the school library at the Sahuaro 50th celebration.

     Anderson was followed to the dais by such honorable dignitaries as Dr. Susie Cook, superintendent of Washington Elementary School District, and Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams. But the most poignant and memorable speeches this day belonged to former Sahuaro teachers Ed Trout, Nancy Frank and Terri Goekler.
     Trout spoke first, reminiscing about his hiring at Sahuaro and earliest experiences at the school. One of the original Sahuaro faculty members, Mr. Trout reported for work in the fall of 1960 only to find that the school was still under construction. “When school started that fall, we had to hold our classes in the Washington Elementary School cafeteria for the first few weeks,” he remembered.

     Trout spoke movingly of his former Sahuaro colleagues before introducing long-time 4th grade teacher Nancy Frank. After an impassioned appeal for school volunteerism, Miss Frank spoke at length regarding her 31 years of Sahuaro memories, recalling for example the deviated septum she suffered one year when trying to settle a tetherball dispute on the playground. Mrs. Goekler then took the stage to share some stories about her famous wigs and to express her lasting gratitude and pride in being a Sahuaro teacher for so many years.

     Alumnus Angela Fischer was the final speaker, taking a few moments to recount Sahuaro memories familiar to many a former student. Fischer spoke wistfully of the legendary PTO spaghetti dinners, summer recreation programs, faculty softball games, science fairs, family fairs, field days, open house nights and Mr. Green’s after-school football games.

     At the completion of the parking lot ceremonies, the crowd moved into the school proper to enjoy a delicious hot dog dinner in the cafeteria and attend a variety of activities around the campus. Current Sahuaro teachers were on hand to make their classrooms available for alumni visits and to host traditional carnival games such as the clothespin drop and bean bag toss. Guests were also treated to an art walk, antique car show, and library “memory walk.” The memory walk featured Sahuaro archive scrap books, school memorabilia, a tribute to Westown Shopping Center and a moving memorial to dearly departed Sahuaro staff members.

     Dozens of former faculty and staff were invited to the 50th anniversary celebration, and although many were sadly unable to attend, an impressive array of prominent past Sahuaro staff members did manage to make it to the event, including Jeanette Bordeleau, Jim and Barbara Cragen, Jean Fields, Betty Sprink and Nurse Greta Sparks.

     One of the clear highlights of the evening for alumni was the opportunity to step inside the legendary and mysterious faculty lounge room, a long forbidden realm to which Sahuaro teachers would often flee during their free periods to commiserate with colleagues and obtain a badly needed dose of nicotine. One former student characterized his visit to the old lounge as "exhilarating, but also kind of creepy." The room is now used for storage and as an alternative rest room area for staff.

     A Sahuaro video retrospective was prepared for the anniversary celebration but became unavailable due to a last-minute technical glitch. Mr. Anderson plans to make the video available before the end of the school year to all interested parties.

     When asked when the time capsule might be opened, Anderson was whimsically evasive. “Perhaps not until 2060,” he speculated. The principal paused and then smiled and added, “Or maybe we’ll take it out and look at it a few years from now.”


Avenue turns out for Sahuaro event

By J. Beaver

     Joan De Arc Avenue was well represented at the Sahuaro 50th anniversary celebration, with members of the Bueker, Hesketh, Mitchell and Varner families known to have been in attendance.

     A trio of Bueker siblings gathered in front of their old residence at 3219 to reenact the daily ritual of walking to the elementary school. After the familiar stroll down 33rd Ave., Barbie, Charles and John Bueker arrived at the Sahuaro parking lot and were immediately greeted by their former teacher Mrs. Bordeleau, who was stationed at the event entry table. Although she has no recollection whatsoever of the Bueker children, Bordeleau was gracious and effusive in her welcome, sharing memories of her early years at Sahuaro as Miss Obert.

    The fourth Bueker sibling, Susan, refused to take part in the school walk, citing her long-standing policy of being "way too cool" for participation in family activities.

     Former Avenue resident Julie Mitchell Munday, who now resides in Prescott Valley, made a surprise appearance at the event after initially declining to attend. Unfortunately, Munday was unable to remain at the celebration for long. “We left our cats locked outside,” she explained somewhat somberly to nearby family and friends. Ever helpful former neighbor John Bueker suggested that "perhaps next time you could leave them a key."

     In a resounding display of nostalgia, former Joan De Arc resident Barbara Bueker Stewart carried a "lunch money jar" to the celebration so that her children, all now in their fifties, would each have 35 cents to spend on snacks in the school cafeteria. Unfortunately, Stewart neglected to bring along the customary aluminum foil necessary for keeping the quarters and dimes together in one place, and at least one Bueker sibling is believed to have lost his lunch money at the event.


 “St. Joan’s Day” takes reunion naming contest

by J. Bueker

     After a rigorous and exciting competition, the results are in for the Crusader’s "Name the Joan De Arc Reunion" contest.

     We proudly congratulate former Joan De Arc resident Rusty Hesketh for her winning entry of "Saint Joan's Day." This henceforth and forevermore becomes the official name of the annual reunion event.

     Hesketh was awarded with her prize, a coveted Joan De Arc Crusader t-shirt, during a brief ceremony at the Sahuaro School 50th Anniversary celebration in November. When asked to explain her reunion name suggestion, Hesketh remarked “I just like the idea of a woman historical figure getting her own day.”

     The second annual Joan De Arc reunion is tentatively scheduled for spring 2011 and will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Joan De Arc Avenue.

     Crusader spokesperson John Bueker has declined to comment on reports that Rusty Hesketh was the sole participant in the reunion-naming contest.




On the INSIDE: Editorials A2 / Nostalgia A3  / Christmas A4 / Crossword A5


Moon Phases:    Last Quarter: December 27   New: January 4   First Quarter: January 12   Full: January 19