Braden River Middle School celebrates 25 years of teaching.
Lannette Gillen has been the Braden River Middle School counselor since the school opened 25 years ago, and she is retiring this year, after shedding a few tears.
“We’ve gone through a lot together ... birth, marriage, death, cancer,” Gillen said of her time with the school’s teachers, administrators, students and their parents.
During the school’s 25th anniversary celebration June 7, she shared a memory from the school’s construction.
She was at the work site with the school’s first principal, George Douglas, and some other teachers as they checked out the construction. They lingered a bit too long, though, and were locked inside the chain-link fence. Gillen said Douglas found a spot where he could hop up the fence to allow the ladies to slide under it, stockings and all.
Jill Bergeron has taught family and consumer science at Braden River since it opened, and she has become the keeper of historical artifacts. She put together a display for the celebration complete with photos, awards, Panther Prints newsletters and yearbooks.
Dancing through the years
When Bergeron agreed to organize the first Braden River Middle School dance in 1991, she had no idea she signed up for a career commitment.
No one wanted to take on the responsibility of organizing a dance. Bergeron had helped with the dance at her former school, the now-closed Bradenton Middle School, so she volunteered. Now, after the dance held June 3, she’s organized all 25.
Her burden has eased over the years — she’s got a team behind her of other teachers, staff and parents who are willing to pitch in.
One of the biggest changes she’s seen in the eighth-grade dance culture is formal proposals — just like their older counter parts do from prom, middle-schoolers have begun doing for their dance, by formally and even publicly asking a date to the dance. Before, she said, everyone just showed up, date or not.
“I love what I do — it keeps me young,” she said. “I think it’s fun to see (my kids) dressed up.”
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