JEFFERSONVILLE — Mark Himmelheber has a special connection to Northaven Elementary School, and it's not just because he was in its first sixth grade class when its doors opened 50 years ago.
In the summer before the school opened, he worked in the school's library to stamp books as a community service project for his Boy Scout troop, and the principal asked him whether he had any ideas for the school's mascot. That summer, he found his inspiration from the Apollo 11 moon landing when he heard the words, "the Eagle has landed."
His idea for the mascot stuck, and on Saturday, many generations of "Eagles" gathered for Northaven Elementary's 50th anniversary celebration. Faculty and students of past and present came together for a small ceremony and perused memorabilia from the various decades of the school.
Himmelheber cherished spending time in the new school before it even opened, and it was meaningful for him when the school was built in his own neighborhood in the Northaven subdivision. He even gave the invocation at the school's dedication on Nov. 23,1969.
"This was our school," he said. "I had been to two other schools living in Northaven because they kept changing the districts. When they announced they were building this one, all of our kids over there were just like, 'that's our school — that's where we're going to go.' I got to go to the first year here before I went on to junior high."
Laura Morris, Northaven's current principal, said organizers were excited to get people back together for the school's big anniversary.
"It's a different school than when it opened in 1969, but it's still a great school," she said.
Scottsburg resident Melissa Davis was in Northaven's first kindergarten class. She was involved in activities such as basketball, and her time at the elementary school stands out due to her positive memories.
"It's like family," she said. "They take care of the kids, and they're more community-oriented."
The 50th anniversary allowed Davis to see how the school has changed over the years, and she saw familiar faces of people she went to school with. Her niece, Serena Fleener also attended Northaven from 1999 to 2005, and she attended the anniversary Saturday with her aunt. She said she enjoyed catching up with former teachers.
"It was great," she said. "I loved the teachers, and it's where my learning all kind of started. They geared me up for the future."
Julia Beard taught at Northaven for 35 years from 1976 to 2011, and she has many wonderful memories at the school. The people at the school have always made it special, she said.
"During my time here, the kids who came through grew up, and some of their kids came through," she said. "That's a touching moment when you have a former student's child. It's just a loving school. The teachers here are so giving. Floods of memories are just coming back, and it's just great to see former co-workers, and a former student was sharing his story with me."
Audrey Glossenger attended Northaven in the school's early years from 1971 to 1976. She saw the event on Facebook, and she came down from Indianapolis to attend the anniversary. As she looked through memorabilia displayed in the hallways, she found a picture of herself with her cheerleading team. She became involved in every sport she could during elementary school, including gymnastics and basketball.
After so many years, she still remembers where her former classrooms where located. She lived just outside of Northaven, and she would walk or ride her bike to school. She said she has a great appreciation for how the school helped her grow, and she enjoyed her time with her "amazing, supportive" teachers.
"I actually got a little teary when I walked in, because it's just such good memories," she said. "What a formative time for people — you just learn and grow so much during those early years."