“Remember when…” Sunnyside’s Final Tour

Multiple generations gathered to cherish memories of their childhood at Sunnyside Elementary

An inquiring phone call and impromptu Facebook post led to a beautiful gathering of curious graduates sharing endearing memories. Dawn King, Sunnyside’s Clerk, opened the elementary school doors for a final look and tour into the school building before it is repurposed into the “Sunnyside Education Center.”

The last of the sidewalk chalk, a former student enjoys a childhood moment one last time on the Sunnyside playground.

While walking casually through the halls, the Cardinals recalled Sunnyside milestones. Stories were funny, charming, and sometimes painful, but the memories were always sweet:

“When I was five years old, Sunnyside was the first school in New Castle to have a women principal! Her name was Bernice Black! In fifth grade, Paula Pulsation came into our classroom and announced that President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember walking out of the school crying, as we were sent home with early dismissal. It was pouring rain.” -Beverly Matthews

“My favorite teacher was Mrs. Wise. I remember her kindness; I had her for third and fifth grade. My two grandkids also went here: Bailey Smith and Ben Smith (now Richmond’s Music Director). Ben was chosen to participate in the Buddy Program in kindergarten, and learned how to give fist bumps!” -Cheryl Laley

Walking through the classrooms and halls,
past Sunnyside students reminisce their childhood.

“I had Mrs. Singleton for fourth grade, fresh out of college. We stayed in touch all these years, and just six years ago, she sent me a wedding gift! -Pat (Peavie) Jackson

“I cried the last day of school of first grade; I did not want to leave Mrs. Davis or school!” -Geraldine Shelton-Brown

When looking around the playground, and the perimeter of the school, Sunnyside school is now surrounded by 50 foot pine trees. “Long before Mansard Apartments were even built, Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery brought all the baby pine trees to school one week, and our second grade class planted them.” -unknown

A few members of the Class of 1971 met at Sunnyside

“Mrs. Justine Lewellen was my favorite teacher. She introduced me to jewelry crafting. She brought in marbles and heated them up; I was fascinated… I also remember walking home from school in the bitter winter. My hands were so cold, even though I had the thickest mittens… We also had our milk given to us in little glass bottles; we could choose white or chocolate. Every day, at least one bottle was broken in the cafeteria… At recess we typically played dodgeball or tag, because the playground equipment was always full.” -Nancy (Smith) Cook

Others recalled “little oak book shelves” in the library, and “being the second-largest class ever to grace the school,” from being the “tail-end of the Baby Boomers.” Excitement was high throughout the city when the “sixth grade moved into the Bundy Building, seventh to The Castle, eighth and ninth grades moved to the Nest, and only the tenth through twelfth grades were at the high school!

Remember when “Eastwood school used to be an athletic field, and Terry Barnes was the school heart-throb?” At recess we “pretended to be on the Ed Sullivan Show; we’d take turns, usually arguing, at who played George, Paul, Ringo and John,” The Beatles.

Mother Lisa Eversole and daughter Megan Poe share a tender moment, as they both attended Sunnyside

Lisa’s daughter, Megan (Eversole) Poe, spoke fondly of the teacher who took extra time explaining difficult subjects, for “Mrs. Scott had made school fun for me again.”

Ron Curnutt shared how the boys would “take turns sliding on the ice during recess. Of course it was not allowed, but when the teachers would turn their backs, we would run and sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiide! I was seven years old!”

Angie’s son, the last of the Aten Children, got to experience Sunnyside like his siblings and mother.

Angie Aten had very fond memories of Sunnyside, and made sure all of her children were able to attend. “Mr. Hudson took his students on incredible sixth grade trips. Many classes would bike across Indiana, and do overnight camping trips. He took my class to the Bat Caves in Southern Indiana (now Indiana Caverns), and we did spelunking, repelling, and things that would never be allowed today! Because of him, in college I showed off at a Ball State event, already knowing how to repel! Mr. Hudson taught me how to construct a term paper so I would ‘be ready for high school and college,’ complete with title page, references, and bibliography; my paper was on Stonehenge. Mr. Hudson taught us life lessons, and made me understand that I would need math for my future job, and now I’m teaching at Wilbur Wright as an Instructional Assistant! He influenced us to become interested in adult topics. While I did not fully understand at the time, he said, when I was “finally able to collect social security, it wouldn’t be there!”

Sunnyside Elementary’s legacy will live on in the hearts of every student, teacher, support staff and principal. It’s influence shaped New Castle residents for generations. Now under a esthetic modifications, the beloved school is being repurposed into the Sunnyside Education Center. The community training center will house the East Central Educational Service Center, Ivy Tech classes, and New Castle’s Adult Education. Although the interior will look drastically different, the walls will forever hold the memories of its former inhabitants. And if the old adage of if walls could talk were true, they might say, “Remember when…”