BARSTOW • Students at Skyline North Elementary celebrated the school's 50th birthday Thursday with a party worthy for a friend.
At 10:45 a.m., all students had gone outside to the school's center, where the classroom buildings form a square perimeter around a big lawn. They sat in rows alongside the sidewalks awaiting the cue to sing.
In near-perfect unison, they nailed "Happy Birthday" before needing a little more patience with the school song — a lesser known tune Principal Kim Barilone only recently discovered tucked away inside a file in her office.
After singing, came wacky cake, a beloved artifact for most grown-ups who had progressed through local-area schools. As children in Mrs. Carson's K-1 class chewed through the chocolate and white frosting, one child answered a question of 'how old is 50?' with, "My grandma's 54!" To which another boy replied, "My grandma's way older than this school."
The students excitedly told of earlier events in the day, which included playing freeze tag, riding old-fashioned tricycles, using crayons to color a cake and eating "ants on a log." They were clearly having fun.
However, the day belonged just as much to the adults — many who had been at the school for years, leaving their mark on each student who they crossed paths with. They're well known, even if their full names aren't.
Ms. Gloria has been in custodial services at Skyline for 26 years. She originally gave herself just five, she joked, but the kids keep her coming back.
"I look forward to seeing their smiles," she said. And when they grow up and sometimes return as parents to their own Skyline children, she said she can always remember them somehow.
"The eyes, the smile, it's something about them — and I go, 'ah, I know you,'" she explained.
Ms. Rogers thinks that's "the neat thing." She started the same year as Ms. Gloria and now heads the special resource program.
"There's just too many good memories," she said.
Barilone agreed. She joined the school in 1990 as a mommy helper and became principal in 2002. She recalled the mid-90s when one teacher performed a rain dance with her class as part of the school's "Dance Day" tradition and the sprinklers inadvertently turned on.
Inside Skyline's auditorium, trophies that alumni had earned were displayed on stage. Next to them, old photos held by scotch tape to large pieces of construction paper provided current students a glimpse into the past.
A little after 11 a.m., the bell rang. Students returned to class.
Someday, they'll be remembered, too, as the group who began the next 50 years.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.