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Birch Lane librarian Lynne Sundstrom, center, holds up a copy of The New York Times that features her students' letter to the editor as she joins them in celebrating picture books in April 2011. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise file photo

Local News

Still time to RSVP for Birch Lane’s 50th birthday party

By From page A1 | October 27, 2013

There’s still time for students, former students, teachers, retired teachers, parents and others to RSVP for Birch Lane Elementary’s 50th anniversary celebration. The event will take place Wednesday, Nov. 6, the 50th day of the current school year.

People are encouraged to RSVP by Thursday to Michelle Salisbury at 530-757-5395 or [email protected]. The school is at 1600 Birch Lane.

Current Birch Lane Principal Kathy Tyzzer said most of the principals from past years will be present for the anniversary.

“We’ve only had five principals in 50 years,” Tyzzer pointed out. “Our first principal, Margaret O’Brien, is now 104 years old. She will not be able to join us, but she’s still around.”

Three other principals who served at Birch Lane will be there — Bill Watkins, Floyd Fenocchio and Velma Lagerstrom, who was the school’s longest-serving principal, at 20-plus years.

“I became principal in 2003; (this is) my 11th year,” Tyzzer said.

During the school day on Nov. 6, there will be several events for current Birch Lane students.

“We’re going to have a kids’ party, they’ll be wearing their 50th anniversary T-shirts,” Tyzzer said. “We will be entertained by the Harper Jazz Band, and the Student Council will be presenting the 50 Best Things About Birch Lane.” Students also will enjoy mini-cupcakes from Sugar Daddies, and toot on birthday party horns that will be provided.

Then from 4 to 6 p.m., the public is invited to attend a party at the school, with former Birch Lane students, staff, teachers, parents and neighborhood friends particularly welcome.

“We will be having more music, and our former principals will be talking about Birch Lane’s history,” Tyzzer said. “I will talk a little bit about the present, and then our Student Council will be envisioning the school’s future.

“We will have some ‘paper trees’ in MPR, and each child currently attending Birch Lane will be invited put their name, and the year they will graduate from Birch Lane on a paper leaf, and put that leaf on the tree,” Tyzzer explained. “We are also inviting graduates from past years, former staff and former teachers, and others to do the same.

“Every guest will have an opportunity to fill out their own leaf and put it on the tree, and we expect there will be a lot of leaves with people’s names hanging on those trees by the end of the party.”

Birch Lane made national news in 2011 when Birch Lane librarian Lynne Sundstrom and her students wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times to support picture books, after reading in the Times that children are losing interest in those books. The letter — signed by 388 students, teachers, staff members and family members — was a 15-foot scroll decorated by tempera ink handprints.

The New York Times editorial page editors were so impressed that they reproduced the scroll (in somewhat reduced form) as a letter to the editor in the print edition, and posted a color version on their website, which can still be viewed online: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/opinion/l14scroll.html?_r=0

Stories about the scroll were also carried by newspapers and broadcasters around the country.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHudsonDE


Jeff Hudson

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