It was a sad day when West Babylon heard about the fire at South Bay Elementary School in February of 2010.
I shared the feeling of loss with so many neighbors, family and friends. It seemed as if part of my identity had disappeared. The school played a prominent part in my life.
For the students, teachers and administration it was a traumatic and troubling experience. It was a blessing that the decision was made to keep the staff and students together as a unit and that the facilities at Our Lady of Grace Church were available for rent until the school could be rebuilt.
The news of the fire brought back so many memories of the school.
When the cornerstone for the building was laid in 1952, my father was president of the West Babylon Board of Education. My brother remembers putting items in a time capsule and holding the masonry trowel that was used. He and my sister attended South Bay School. Later my two daughters went to South Bay and it was there I subbed before I began teaching art full time. It was at South Bay I began my teaching career. I taught from 1959 to 1986.
At first, without an art room, I pushed a cart filled with supplies from room to room, teaching all the children from kindergarten to fifth grade. Later the children came to me, and we were able to work in a permanently equipped art room. After the fire, I realized I had taught in every classroom in the building.
I remember every bulletin board I created, the art exhibits, and the displays of the children's work that lined the halls of the building. I remember decorating the stage for holiday concerts and plays, helping with costumes, and having children come to my art room at lunch recess for art club.
I enjoyed my classes; the children were appreciative and creative. We made stop-action films, did papier-mâché, painting, printmaking, ceramics, murals, weaving and puppetry. We learned origami, how to build model stage sets, and about the magic of mixing colors. We talked about famous artists and made posters and greeting cards and programs for school concerts. I ordered and dispensed art supplies for the entire building. My ties to South Bay were many.
There were meetings with parents on open school night, PTA slide shows and field trips. Each year one permanent piece of student art work was framed and donated to the school. So many physical things are now gone since the fire.
The ribbon for the opening the new building was cut on Sept. 6, and the promise made by Superintendent Anthony Cacciola that the school would reopen for the 2011-12 year was kept. South Bay School is alive and well once again, and more memories will be made!