Although it happened more than 40 years ago, teacher Barbara Smith can remember hearing quacking one afternoon when classes at the St. Marks Avenue School –– now the Charles A. Reinhard Center for Early Childhood Education –– ended for the day. One of her students returned to the building, set among brand new homes, with a basket that had a duck in it.
“You aren’t going to find that in fifth and sixth grade today,” Smith said. “The kids here were just amazing.”
At the recent 50th anniversary celebration to mark the school’s opening on May 1, 1963, educators past and present agreed that although much has changed at the St. Marks Avenue building in the past five decades, the community continues to support the school and its students.
Former Reinhard teachers and Bellmore School District officials joined the current Reinhard community of students, teachers and administrators on the anniversary to share stories about the building’s past and offer ideas about its future. The celebration, open to the student body of kindergartners and first- and second-graders, took on a 1960s theme, as the district’s youngest learners were encouraged to think about what it was like to be a student 50 years ago.
Principal Clifford Molinelli explained that the Charles A. Reinhard Early Childhood Center was once called St. Marks Avenue School. The building was renamed on May 23, 1974, for the legendary Bellmore Board of Education trustee who served from 1944 to 1974.
Lester and Barbara Smith, who have been married for 42 years — since they met while working in classrooms across the hall from each other at Reinhard — can recall a time when the building welcomed elementary school students of all grade levels. According to Lester, children came in droves in the first few years the school was open.
“We would sometimes get three or four kids in a class one month because of all the housing that was being developed,” he recalled. “You’d have up to 34 kids in a class. They were just filling up immediately.”