Bellingham's Lowell Elementary to celebrate its centennial March 26

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 26, 2014 

Lowell Elementary, Bellingham

Derek Vormestrand looks out a window of the Lowell Elementary on Feb. 19, 2009, during renovations at the school. Lowell will celebrate its 100-year anniversary on March 26, 2014. Lowell is oldest school in Bellingham operating in the same building.

KATIE BARNES — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

People connected with Lowell Elementary plan to celebrate the Bellingham school's centennial as well as its innovative present with a special day of activities March 26.

During the day, teachers and students will host tours and presentations about Lowell's use of "The Leader in Me" program, based on leadership and goal-setting principles from Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

"We want to showcase what it is now," said Missy Ferguson, the school's principal.

Lowell is the only school in Whatcom County using the approach, she said.

For people more history-minded, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 26 is set aside for people to mark Lowell's 100th anniversary. A Facebook page for the event features class photographs from the 1940s through the 1990s, and provides a forum for alumni to identify people in the photos and to share stories about Lowell.

The site is organized by Lisa Seal Christensen, who attended Lowell for third through fifth grade and is now the school's library media specialist.

"I have deep roots in the school," she said.

Lowell Elementary was built of brick in 1914 on South Hill, replacing the 14th Street School on the same property.

"It's one of the grand old buildings," Christensen said. "It feels substantial."

The school, by the way, is named for James Russell Lowell, a 19th century American poet, essayist and diplomat.

Lowell can lay claim to being the oldest school in Bellingham operating in the same building.

Whatcom Middle School was built in 1903, but was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2009. Similarly, Fairhaven Middle School also was built in 1903, but was destroyed by fire Dec. 31, 1935.

Roeder School opened in 1909, but now houses school district offices, not students and teachers.

There was a two-year gap in schooling at Lowell, however. The school was closed for the 2008-09 school year for seismic retrofitting, and was kept closed the following year due to budget cuts.

Next school year will mark another milestone for Lowell, because nearby Larrabee Elementary will be closed and Larrabee students will be split between Lowell and Happy Valley elementaries.

Also, Lowell is in line for an elevator and a new gym and cafeteria, thanks to the $160 million bond recently approved by voters.

The evening of March 26 will feature a photographic show about the history of south Bellingham, displays of Lowell artifacts, visits with teachers, refreshments, and possibly scrapbook pages for people to sign.

Toward the end of this school year Lowell also might hold a "1914" day, when people could wear clothes to fit that era, Lowell's 288 students could play old-fashioned games at recess, and students could use an oldfangled device called a blackboard.

"I remember having to clean the blackboards," Christensen said.

MORE DETAILS

Details about Lowell Elementary's centennial are at facebook.com/#!/groups/Lowell100.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-229 or dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com .

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