Brywood Elementary School celebrates its first quarter-century with an image to remember


More than 600 students, staff and special guests recently marked Brywood Elementary School’s 25th year with speeches, remembrances and a new version of the school’s original anthem.

But the highlight of the March 30 celebration was a photo that captured the past, present and future of Brywood, snapped as the day’s participants formed the shape of a large “25” on the grassy field. (You can click on the photo above to see a larger version.)

Mary Thomas-Vallens, an original member of the faculty, organized the silver anniversary festivities, which kicked off that morning with a flag ceremony and an updated performance of the school’s anthem — sung to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land” — by the Brywood honor chorus. Next up was an introduction of the current staff, including founding teachers Thomas-Vallens and Kathleen Dacey.

Students later watched a slideshow of images that chronicled their school’s history, courtesy of parent Gigi Labus, before gathering again in the afternoon, according to parent Wendy Bokota. This time they were joined by more than a dozen former staff members, as well as all four of Brywood’s principals — Stu Cunningham, Pat Gibson, Bobbi Mahler and current Principal Christine Amoroso are pictured to the right — and some invited dignitaries. The latter group included IUSD school board member Gavin Huntley-Fenner, Superintendent Terry Walker and local state Assemblyman Don Wagner.

“All were impressed by the hundreds of students dressed in yellow — one of Brywood’s signature colors — sitting quietly, listening to remarks by so many people who have felt the spirit of Brywood over the years,” Bokota said.