Ann Arbor's Carpenter Elementary School celebrates 175th anniversary
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Editor's note: The name of the director for the Pittsfield Department of Public Safety has been corrected.
It was a high-energy afternoon Friday during the 175th Anniversary Celebration of Ann Arbor’s Carpenter Elementary School.
Amidst sunny skies and mild temperatures, students, teachers, parents and community members gathered at the school at 4250 Central Blvd., in Pittsfield Township, for a short program to recognize one of the oldest schools in Michigan. The program included a parade around the school with the Huron High School drumline as well as a presentation of music and history inside the school’s multi-purpose room.
“This is a joyous celebration of a heritage that has created the kind of young people and sense of community that Carpenter represents today and in the future,” said Dr. Patricia Green, superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools. “It’s a wonderful occasion.”
Green was one of four dignitaries to make remarks at the event, the others included Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, Pittsfield Township Deputy Supervisor Trish Reilly and Matthew Harshberger, director of the Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety, who each thanked members of the school and community for their partnership in supporting Carpenter Elementary School.
“It’s a great overall community,” Hieftje said. “Schools do well when the community cares, and the people of Ann Arbor and Pittsfield care about their schools.”
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
In addition to student musical performances and speeches, the program included a video presentation on the school’s history created by teacher Bethany Tabaka and local historians Edward and Mary Ellen Wall. The Walls have been working on a book about the history of Pittsfield Township and said there were three chapters dedicated to Carpenter Elementary School alone.
Edward Wall said the program was a celebration of the 175th anniversary of the school’s name, but the school actually is 188 years old considering the years before it was named Carpenter Elementary School — making it one of the oldest schools in the state.
“[For nearly 200 years this school] has provided continuous service, uninterrupted service to the same level of students K-6, K-8 in the same geographic are,” he said. “It is a remarkable accomplishment.”
Though the name has lasted nearly 200 years, the buildings that have housed the school haven’t. Carpenter Elementary School originally opened in 1825 as a one-room log cabin on the corner of Carpenter and Packard streets, though it wasn’t named Carpenter Elementary School until 1837. In 1854, the school moved to the west side of Carpenter Road and eventually was destroyed by fire.
The school moved to its third location at 3360 Carpenter Road in 1914, and became the first building to have electricity. The school moved to its present location on the southeast corner of Central and Dayton in 1952 and has grown to include a population of nearly 400 students.
Parents attending the event said they were excited to be part of the celebration.
Michael Johnson has one son and two nieces at Carpenter and also is principal of Ann Arbor’s Lakewood Elementary School. He said the celebration was a great day for the kids and the community.
“175 years is unprecedented,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see how the school started from a one-room schoolhouse and now has grown to the size of almost 400 kids — this is phenomenal.”
Parent Vicky Cotitsas has two kids in the school and said the event was monumental.
“It’s history to be a part of that community and to be a part of this school,” she said. “I think it was important, I think they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives.”