By Sharon King: Guest columnist
No, I didn’t attend when the school was called the East Ward, but I did attend J.P. Steiner Elementary School when grades 1-6 went to the school closest to your home.
I have wonderful memories of my six years there and I’m a little sad that it will be torn down next year.
My teachers remain in my heart to this day.
First grade: Mrs. Marshall. What a sweetheart. She was the epitome of a first-grade teacher.
Second grade: Miss Hotchkiss, who later became Mrs. Hall. This teacher has left an indelible mark in my brain.
Part way through the second grade, my family moved to Red River where my dad managed the cafeteria at the ski run. My brother and I attended a school in the old Moly Mines, one teacher for eight grades. It became apparent very quickly that we were falling behind in our learning so my mom brought us back to Portales after just nine weeks. I lucked out and got Miss Hotchkiss, fresh out of college and filled with enthusiasm. She spent several weeks with me after school to help catch me up to the other students. I remember spending a lot of time on phonics, which I am sure is why I spell so well.
Third grade: Mrs. McKenzie. Oh my gosh — the sweetest woman on earth.
Fourth grade: Mrs. McKnight. Tough but a great teacher.
Fifth grade: Mrs. Stratton. One of my best friend’s mother, so I felt I was at home all day long.
My really big memory of the fifth grade — sitting in our classroom in an old barrack on Nov. 22, 1963, when the principal’s voice came over the PA system and said, “Students, it’s my sincere sorrow to tell you that John F. Kennedy, president of the United States, has been assassinated in Dallas, Texas.”
Even in the fifth grade, we knew the significance of that moment. Tears flowed from just about every eye in the school, no, every eye in the United States, that day.
Sixth grade: Mrs. Martin. Kind, sweet lady. Looking back I think, geez, how on earth do people tolerate sixth graders!
So even though I’m excited about the new school, I’m going to miss J.P. Steiner Elementary School and the tether ball poles, the old wooden seesaw and the metal slide that would burn the back of your legs if you wore shorts.
That’s the beauty of memories — they are probably better than the actual event was.