Rockin' Time

Sweetwater Elementary School students all painted rocks to form a rock garden at the school on Oct. 28 in honor of the school's 25th anniversary.

Sweetwater Elementary School in Port Orange celebrated its 25th anniversary in a big way Oct. 28 by unlocking its time capsule.

The event brought back original Principal Pat Miller-Evans and original Assistant Principal George Marks, and all 654 students presented painted rocks they created for display in the courtyard during the Sweetwater “ROCKS” celebration.

The time capsule was buried 25 years ago and was dug up to reveal various items that were current then. New items were placed in it from this year to be opened in the year 2044. Original items in the time capsule included a school T-shirt, a picture of Ms. Evans and Mr. Marks, some nostalgic facts about 1994, the school menu, staff and student lists, and a letter from the charter members of Sweetwater Elementary addressing those present for the anniversary celebration in 2019.

The 2019 capsule will include a copy of the school song, lifelong guiding principles the school follows, staff and student lists, Billboard's Top 40 songs, current headlines, an anniversary T-shirt, a decorated anniversary rock, and a letter addressing staff and students 25 years from now.

Principal Tamara Hopkins said, “Sweetwater Elementary is located in a wonderful community with terrific support from local businesses. Our school has been recognized the last three years by the State of Florida as a School of Excellence due to our dedicated teachers and their hard work. We love our families and are so proud to be a part of giving our students a solid educational foundation and building their confidence and desire to give their personal best.”

Ms. Fran Maddox-Barrs is the assistant principal and the school has a staff of 85, including three who have been at the school from the beginning.

School Board Member Linda Cuthbert said, “You would be surprised what you can do in 25 years. Look around you and look at all what you’ve accomplished. The plants have grown. There have been upgrades, there’s technology. Aren’t we glad we are here today to help celebrate?”

Ms. Evans described how in the initial planning phase to create Sweetwater Elementary, she “had a card table, no cell phones, a telephone, no computer and we put it all together somehow or another. We came together on a very specific vision and that vision was to teach the whole child. To involve every department in the school; the academic as well as the emotional/social and developmental areas with age appropriate activities. I am happy today to see we are still continuing that with our lifelong guidelines and many of the other things we put in place.”

Specifically addressing current students, she said, “I want to look back and see the great things you will accomplish because of this foundation that you’re getting. I know that you have the right tools to do the right things and be great for 25 more years.”

Mr. Marks, who also became an area superintendent, said, “To this day this is one of the most beautiful campuses in Volusia County and it’s 25 years old. In 25 years, this school will still be here and you can come back and be here for the 50th.”

Kindergarten teacher Megan Martens said it best with, “I feel so lucky to teach at and be a part of the Sweetwater family. We truly have a great community that works together to make a difference.”

The PTA provided new Sweetwater shirts that all faculty and students wore during the celebration. The school’s Sweetbeats musical group performed “All the World Needs is Love” and the school’s song, “We, the Caring Community.”

As an added plus, the school’s new track was unveiled.

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