Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jennifer Simms

A celebration of community: Niwot Elementary marks 50 years


April 12, 2017

Photo by Bruce Warren The Cougar Choir performed with “Dr. Banjo” Pete Wernick during the anniversary under the direction of Abby Madrey, accompanied by Pauline Solderholm.

Niwot Elementary was hoping for good weather for the school’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, and Saturday, April 8, turned out to be a perfect sunny spring day.

“It was so important to be outside today because where you’re sitting is Ward Field,” principal Nancy Pitz told the audience of past and present Niwot Elementary staff, students, and families as she introduced the field’s namesake and the celebration’s keynote speaker, Terri Ward.

Ward was a fifth grade student at Niwot Elementary when the school opened in 1967, and laterworked as the school’s PE teacher for many years. She shared memories of the community fifty years ago, such as riding her horse down the median of the Diagonal Highway to attend 4H club in Niwot, or watching cigarette smoke from the teacher’s lounge waft down the hallway.

Though Ward noted the differences, she also highlighted things that had stayed the same, including the strong school community. “Once you are a part of this Niwot community, you will always be a part of this Niwot community. And once you are a Cougar, you will always be a Cougar.”

Praise for Niwot Elementary and the community was echoed by the event’s other speakers, such as Ivan Adams, who served as the school’s principal from 1983 to 1995. “It’s the best school I’ve ever been involved in,” Adams told the crowd.

Superintendent Don Haddad, who came to know the Niwot during his tenure as principal at Niwot High, told attendees, “This is a very amazing community. One of the most outstanding school communities in the state of Colorado and throughout America.”

Photo by Bruce Warren NES staff member Jennifer Novick and former teachers John and Nancy Prieskorn were among the attendees at the NES 50th anniversary.

Current staff members were also quick to applaud the school. “The staff is wonderful. I’ve worked with so many great kids throughout the years. It’s my happy place,” said Nancy Hagan, a special education para educator for 20 years.

“We’ve had such great families here. I’ve really felt part of the family at Niwot Elementary,” said kindergarten teacher Mickki Soole, who has been at NES for 32 years.

In addition to the guest speakers, the program featured performances from Niwot Elementary Cougar Choir which was accompanied by local banjo player Pete Wernick. Afterward attendees were treated to green and white cupcakes, and invited to a school open house which included displays of articles, photos, and yearbooks from the last fifty years, as well as writing pieces by current NES students.

As Pitz told the crowd during her introduction, “It’s a school with so much tradition and so much pride. It’s a really special place.”


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