CLARKSVILLE — Tammy Yenawine Mustain was one of the original students at Parkwood Elementary School in Clarksville when she started in fourth grade at the school in 1968.
She remembers the excitement of attending a brand-new school in the Parkwood subdivision and being able to walk to school from her home.
"I loved my school days here at Parkwood," she said. "I was just sad that I couldn't go here all my years of elementary."
As Parkwood Elementary celebrates its 50th anniversary, community members are reflecting upon their memories of the school. Last week, the school presented a number of events related to the anniversary, including an assembly and open house last Friday with both current and former students and staff.
The school also marked the occasion by burying a time capsule in its courtyard, which will be opened in 25 years. Current students worked with their teachers to write letters about their own favorite memories at Parkwood.
The school first opened in August 1968 with 539 students enrolled in kindergarten through grade six, and it originally had 20 classrooms, a library, a cafeteria and a gymnasium. Over the years, it has been through a number of renovations and expansions, including additional classrooms.
Some of Mustain's favorite teachers were from her time at Parkwood. The teachers were involved in the students' lives, she said, and students loved coming to school.
She wasn't the only one in her family to attend the elementary. She stayed in the Parkwood area, and she was involved in PTO meetings as her two daughters went to school there in the 1980s.
Mustain said she loves that Parkwood is located within a subdivision, since her neighborhood friends were also her school friends when she was a student there.
"I think it's very unique that we actually have a school planted in a subdivision," she said. "I've really stayed close with a lot of the kids that I went all the way through school with, and I think it was because we lived in the neighborhood, and we went to school together."
Parkwood Elementary has played an important role for several generations of Peggy Ashabranner's family. She has resided in the Parkwood neighborhood for 50 years, and she has had three children, two grandchildren and three step-children attend the school — her son started kindergarten there in its first year and was one of the first to go all the way through.
Ashabranner attended the open house Friday, and as she watched a slideshow of pictures from the school's history, she saw plenty of familiar faces. Her sons and grandsons both participated on the school's basketball team, and she was a Girl Scout leader when her daughter was at Parkwood.
Her late husband also volunteered at the school in a variety of ways. He coached track and basketball, chaperoned field trips and helped out with a creative problem-solving program called Odyssey of the Mind.
"It just goes on and on and on with us," she said.
In Ashabranner's experience, Parkwood has always had a friendly atmosphere with good teachers, and she has always found it to be topnotch, she said.
"This was home," she said. "We felt we owned a part of it. We were here for everything."
Kathy Davis also has a long history with Parkwood. She started teaching there in 1981 before retiring last year, and she taught learning disabled children for 14 years before switching to third grade for the rest of her career.
"It was a wonderful place to come as a new teacher, because I had all these wonderful mentors, and everybody cared about everybody," she said. "It was like a big family. The children were great, too, and they still are. The staff are great, too."
Davis still works as a substitute teacher at Parkwood occasionally and helps with the school's archery program. She has seen five different principals in her time as a teacher, and she has seen many changes at the school, including the expansion of its English as a Second Language program.
She enjoys reconnecting with her former students to learn about where life has taken them. On Friday, many of her former students visited the school, including those who are in college or have started their careers.
"There is no greater feeling for a teacher than to watch students be successful," she said. "That’s just a good feeling."
If Parkwood had a family night, it would be packed, Davis said, and the school is "always filled with families that care about their kids and want the best for their kids and teachers that work hard."
"There's just a whole lot of caring going on here," she said.