Freeman Elementary fourth-graders raise their hands at the conclusion of singing "You Raise Me Up," the final number in the school's 50-year observance on Thursday night.
Freeman Elementary students and staff celebrated the school's first half-century on Thursday by turning back the hands of time and a turning over a few shovels toward the future.
Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis and Freeman Principal Kaye Post led a brigade of shovel-toters who broke ground for a new SPARK Park to be located on the north side of the campus.
After a reception in the school gym, a packed audience in the cafeteria took a musical trip down memory lane, led by five grade-level choirs. Each choir performed a song from one of the five decades that have passed since the school opened in 1960.
Three Pasadena ISD board members -- Jack Bailey, Nelda Sullivan and Marshall Kendrick -- attended the 50th anniversary celebration.
All three principals from the school's past quarter-century -- Judy Bowers Dr. Susan Jackson and Post -- attended as did Helen Milstead Henrichson, sister of the late Earnestine Milstead, who opened the school as principal in 1960 and served until her retirement in 1986.
Milstead Middle School, also located in the Freeway Manor neighborhood, is named in Earnestine Milstead's honor.
The school is named for A.B. Freeman, a member of the Board of Trustees from 1923 to 1941.
Freeman opened on Oct. 4, 1960 to relieve overcrowding at South Houston Elementary and serve the residents of Freeway Manor, then a bustling new community wedged between the Gulf Freeway and Highway 3.
Jonathan Aigner, the school's music director, organized the five-song student salute to the school. The program kicked off with kindergarten students singing the 1960s Beatles hit, "Yellow Submarine."
The finale, "You Raise Me Up," performed by the fourth grade, left many audience members in tears.
Freeman Principal Kaye Post and Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis lead a delegation for the groundbreaking of a new SPARK Park on the school grounds. Participating are Charles Bourgeouis of SBW Architects; Dale Clowson of KBR; Lori Groce, faculty representative from Freeman; Kathleen Ownby, executive director of the SPARK School Park Program; Post; Dr. Lewis; Board of Trustees member Jack Bailey and Claude Griffin, representing Shell Oil. Student representatives are third-grader Alexia Hight, second-grader Janessa Perez and first-graders Jonathan Perez and Mariah Perez.
An artistic display of shovels used to break ground for the new SPARKS Park.
Four women, representing the only four principals in school history: Kaye Post, who took the job in 2005; Dr. Susan Jackson, Freeman's principal from 2000 to 2005; Judy Bowers, principal from 1986 to 2000; and Helen Milstead Henrichson, sister of the late Earnestine Milstead, who served from the school's opening in 1960 until her retirement in 1986.
Two former Freeman students, Neil Hicks and Brad Wright, scan scrapbooks for pictures of their teachers at the memorabilia table as host Julia Sawhill, a second-grade teacher at Freeman, looks on.
Kindergarten students kick off the program with a rendition of "Yellow Submarine," a Beatles hit in the 1960s, the decade that Freeman first opened its doors.
(Left) A Freeman first-grader sings "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," commemorating the 1970s and severe flooding that struck the community early in the decade; (right) third-graders belt out "Man in the Mirror," a hit song by Michael Jackson in the 1980s.
Second-graders put the finishing touches on "All Star," a song commemorating the 1990s.
Freeman fourth-graders take the stage for the evening's final number before a standing-room-only audience in the school cafeteria.