Fun, exciting, happy! Coolidge was a great place to go to school. I loved school! I loved Coolidge! I loved learning! The teachers were kind, helpful and interested in our learning. They made us behave and challenged us with meaningful work. I had good friends who lived near me and were in my class. For two or three years our classroom was divided between two grades. Half of the students were in one grade and the other half was in the grade above. I don’t know why the classroom was that way but the students all seemed smart and loved learning so it was interesting and fun to be in that classroom. It must have been a challenge for the teacher in a classroom like this but she (always a “she” at that time) worked with the different grades smoothly and everybody did what they were supposed to do. I would arrive at school (I don’t know what time.) We went to our locker (or the cloak room for kindergarteners). Go to your classroom all morning. Pay attention. Learn all you can. Walk home for lunch (8 blocks in my case). Eat lunch. Walk back to school. Different subjects in the afternoon. Pay attention. Learn all you can. I remember that we weren’t allowed to cross Westcombe so if I happened to see my friend Ann, we had to yell back and forth at each other across Westcombe until we reached Beecher Rd. where there was a traffic cop to help the kids on the other side of Westcombe cross over to our side of Westcombe and walk the rest of the way to school with us. If there was time once we got to school and the weather was good, we’d play marbles on the sidewalk. I loved playing marbles. In fact, I still have a huge glass jar full of marbles which I keep ready in case a marbles game breaks out. I was the marbles champ! My very favorite memory of my time at Coolidge was that as sixth graders my friend Ann and I were chosen to be flag girls! We put the flag up every school day morning and took it down after school. We were so proud! We raised and lowered the flag slowly as we had learned then carefully folded it into triangles at the end of the day and returned it to the principal, Miss Robinson, in her office.And, yes, Ann and I couldn’t resist putting our tongues on the flag pole in the bitter winter. • It was my first formal education. My parents expected that all four of us would do well in school. They saw to it that we had the tools we needed; they provided plenty of help (our dad with math and science; our mom with language arts and writing), and not only did we know we had their support, but we had their expectation as well! Coolidge was the place where we DID what they expected. Probably, overall, Coolidge had a lasting impact on me as I followed the field of education for my life work. I loved the classroom as a student and I continued to love it when I was teaching — not so much when I was an administrator though. I always missed the vitality and fun of the classroom.
Not only that, but my sisters and I attended Coolidge in the heyday of the Flint Community Schools. Families participated in roller skating, bridge, school parties, movies, school fairs, and I’m not sure what else — all supported by the Community School Directors (Association?) and (I believe) made possible by the Mott Foundation. It was lots of fun for families to participate in these after school events. I remember them as being well attended with lots of kids and parents roller skating together at Rollhaven Skate Park. I remember that my parents both worked at the fairs, selling tickets, etc. The parents had fun at the community events, too, seeing their neighbors, watching their kids having fun, etc. The Community School Directors brought a great deal of community and family togetherness to the Flint schools.
I live in the Glendale Hills neighborhood so Coolidge still matters deeply to me even though I am an adult. My family is rooted in the Glendale Hills Neighborhood; Coolidge was our school. A school is a focus point, a neighborhood gathering place, a community place. To not have Coolidge, the only school that our neighborhood has ever known, was a sad awareness of neighborhood decline. My route takes me past Coolidge several times a day. Until the Coolidge School “transformation” started, it was a constant, painful, and worrying reminder to see that once beautiful, now lonely building falling into decay.I was sad when I learned that Coolidge was closing. Not only was it closed but it sat for SEVEN years uncared for, gradually declining, until it became an eyesore with weeds, tall grass, and broken windows. I am thrilled!! Not only because the building will be open again, but it will be a spectacular building! That is because Glenn and Essence Wilson have a wonderful reputation for doing things right! The Wilsons don’t just create a building, make it beautiful, then walk away from it. Buildings they have renovated in the past look as lovely as they did when they were first built. Everything is carefully planned, beautifully appointed, and well taken care of.Quality matters to Communities First and it shows! Once again Coolidge will be full of people building their own memories in a beautiful space!
|From left to right: Sue Age 10, Sisters Maryanna Age 8
and Margie Age 5