Tamaques Elementary School is commemorating its 50th Anniversary with a series of school and community-wide celebrations, which began in the fall and will continue through the remainder of the school year.
The festivities kicked off with 450+ students, faculty and staff donning specially designed anniversary t-shirts and coming together to form the number 50. Professional photographer and Tamaques parent Derek Evans captured the moment for posterity. The aerial-view, “50 Photo” will be on display in the school lobby, and copies of the photo will be available to all Tamaques families.
“Everyone at Tamaques – from students, to teachers and staff – was given a 50th commemorative t-shirt as a birthday gift from the PTO,” explained Tamaques Principal Mike Cullen. “It was the perfect way to link our school’s landmark birthday with each member of the Tamaques community, and preserve the spirit of the celebration through the 50 Photo.”
With the arrival of this milestone anniversary, the Tamaques community has also strived to ensure that the school will continue to grow and evolve well beyond its 50th year. Integral to achieving this goal has been the construction of the Tamaques Garden and future opening of the Tamaques Outdoor Classroom. The garden, which features multiple beds growing a seasonal rotation of herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables, earned initial funding through grants from the NJ Agricultural Society and Whole Foods, and has continued to thrive thanks to the generosity of local businesses such as Bartell’s Farm & Garden Supply, Scape-Abilities, Parker Gardens and the Home Depot of Colonia, all of which donated valuable materials, equipment and manpower.
“The garden has offered endless curriculum applications,” said Frank Fuzy, third grade teacher and faculty leader for the Tamaques Garden. “Moreover, we’re finding that students are developing a more tangible connection to – and appreciation for – the environment. We’ve witnessed the children planting seeds, making predictions and observations about how and when they will grow, then harvesting what’s been planted and sampling a meal made from what they’ve grown. It’s been a genuine garden-to-table experience.”
Set to be completed in the spring of 2013, the Tamaques Outdoor Classroom will be the first of its kind in Westfield. Designed by Tamaques parent Gregory Blasi of Palimpsest Architectural Design, this open-air learning center will not only transform the school’s façade, but also give students the opportunity to receive academic instruction in a unique, multi-sensory environment. “The Outdoor Classroom is the culmination of a two-plus year collaboration between the Board of Education, Tamaques faculty, staff and dedicated parents like Mr. Blasi, all of whom devoted their time and talents to making the classroom a reality,” said Principal Cullen. “The Outdoor Classroom will serve as a natural complement to the Tamaques Garden, enabling students to learn about everything from math, to science, to language arts, in an entirely new way.”
The Tamaques Outdoor Classroom will be unveiled during a grand opening celebration in the spring. Tamaques families, alumni, town officials, and the wider Westfield community will all be invited to attend. To learn more about the Tamaques Garden and Outdoor Classroom, as well as additional 50th anniversary activities, please contact Carisa Strauss (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cheryl Kelesoglu (email@example.com) of the Tamaques PTO.