Once a Cornwellian, always a Cornwellian.
This Saturday, past and present students and staff of Cornwells Elementary School, 2215 Hulmeville Road in Bensalem, have the opportunity to roam their old halls and reconnect during a 25th anniversary celebration for the school. The event is open to the public and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The day includes faculty/staff meet-and-greets, crafts, merchandise, games and building tours. Additional parking is available at Shafer Middle School, 3333 Hulmeville Road, with a free shuttle running back and forth.
“Folks will be able to go around and take a self-guided walk around the building into their old rooms and see pictures from the past 25 years,” said Shawn Mark, the 17-year principal of Cornwells. “There are opportunities to meet current and former staff and teachers. We tried to get as many as we could. We’re gonna have some memorabilia out on display for them to look at, so they can walk down memory lane as they walk through the halls.”
According to Mark, a major part of the day will be the opening of a phone booth time capsule, which was filled back in 1998 when the school moved from its original, smaller location on Route 13.
“It’s been closed and it’s very private, so you can’t see what’s in there, which is cool,” Mark said. “We keep it in the library, so every child gets to see it. It’s got a big purple ribbon wrapped around it. Our current students are intrigued by what could possibly be in there.”
Mark, as well as teacher Lisa Spielberger, who has been with Cornwells since its early days, are proud of how much the school has grown and adapted over the past quarter-century.
There is now a full-day kindergarten, more special education offerings (including five classes for autistic students), a sensory room with de-escalation areas, English language support services and more.
Another thing that’s grown over the years, said Spielberger, is the pride felt by Cornwellians.
“The one time we really see it is at the end of each year. We invite the high school graduates back and they do a walk through the halls in their cap and gown. All of our current Cornwellians, we stand out in the hall and cheer for them,” she said. “I think it was last year, one of the graduating seniors said to me, ‘Once a Cornwellian, always a Cornwellian.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, for them to feel that special about their elementary school … ’ ”
Looking ahead at the next 25 years, Mark wants to see the school shift its focus to meet the new challenges of 21st-century learning, including a heavier emphasis on STEM instruction, exploratory types of lessons and more problem-solving, designing and building.
“We are educating kids for careers that may not exist,” she said. “So we can’t necessarily teach them the specific thing that they are going to be doing for their careers, but we can teach them how to persevere with challenges. We can teach them social and emotional skills that they’re going to need, and we can help prepare them for working together in teams, creating, designing and developing their own futures.”
Register for the 25th anniversary event at bit.ly/3LFizbk.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org