Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Walt Disney Elementary's"; They Are All Around

I ran across something today that kind of surprised me, although it probably shouldn’t have. I was tooling around the internet and came across an elementary school named for Walt Disney. I guess it should not have surprised me that a School District would name one of their schools after Walt, there have been worse names used in the past. A couple that come to mind;

So, in my searches, I came up with 14 different schools named after the famed Walt Disney. Interesting that some of the schools are official Walt Disney while some are just Disney. Below is the list I had come up with.

Walt Disney Elementary of Levittown, Pa.

Disney Elementary of Clinton Twsp., Mi.

Walt Disney Elementary of Rochester, NY

Walt Disney Elementary of Mishawaka, In.

Walt Disney Elementary of Marceline, Mi.

Disney Elementary of Springfield, Mo.

Walt Disney Elementary of San Ramon, Ca.

Walt Disney School of Anaheim, Ca.

Disney Elementary of Tulsa, Ok.

The list is in no order, except for the first one in Levittown, Pa. That town is only 40 minutes away from me, and I never knew the school was there. This, as far as I can tell, was the first school to be named for Walt and the only one to actually have him there at the dedication. Below is an article I have found and coincidently it was posted on the Bucks Local News website just the other day. In case the link goes bad I have the contents of the article below:
By Jack Lebo, Correspondent
We just happen to reside just down the street from an elementary school named for one of my heroes, Walt Disney. Just recently, I discovered that Mr. Disney, himself came to Levittown, PA, to dedicate the opening of the school. Unfortunately, I was serving overseas with the U.S. Air Force at the time, thus, I was unable to witness this wonderful occasion.It was Saturday, September 24, 1955, and Walt Disney had come to town to dedicate the then brand-new elementary school that had been named in his honor. The school, in the lakeside section of Levittown, PA, had been built to replace the aging two-room Tullytown schoolhouse that had served the community for generations.In the spring of 1954, with the new school still in the planning stages, the Tullytown school board had asked students to select the person for whom they would name it. Generally, elementary schools are named after famous American historical figures, usually deceased. But these children had someone different in mind. To everyone’s surprise and delight, they chose Walt Disney.For a child, this was a simple choice. The name Walt Disney was known to even the youngest of them. The bulk of their entertainment was provided by Disney. The market was flooded with Disney books, Disney magazines and Disney toys. Movie theatres were filled with Disney productions. “The Mickey Mouse Club” and the Disney TV shows led the TV ratings, and the Disneyland theme Park had just opened. It was no contest. Disney was contacted, and was pleasantly surprised that a school would bear his name. AS famous as he had been for so many years, no other school had ever given him this honor. Not only did he promise to come to the dedication, but he would send artists to decorate the school’s interior. Since Gov. George Leader had proclaimed Sept. 24 “Walt Disney Day” throughout the Commonwealth, national state, and local dignitaries waited there to greet Disney. But it was the children who got most of the attention. They shunted the officials aside and surged forward almost onto the railroad tracks. They shouted and waved, and clutched at Disney as he climbed down from the train.The door to each room would be emblazoned with the name of a Disney character rather than a number. There would be the “Mickey” room, the “Donald” room, the “Pinocchio” room and the “Snow White” room. The principal’s office door would read “Captain Hook”; “the cafeteria, “The Castle of Dreams;” the girls’ lavatory, “Mermaid Lagoon;” and the boys’ lavatory, “Pirates Cove.” The nurse’s office was “Pegleg Point” and the telephone booth was “Tinker Bell.” The door to the boiler room, beyond which no student should ever pass, would read, “Never-never Land.” On Saturday, Sept. 24, shortly after 3 p.m., a Pennsylvania Railroad train approached the Levittown station. Leaning out of the window of the diesel locomotive, wearing a railroad engineer’s cap, and smiling and waving to the crowd that overflowed the platform, was Walt Disney. Beside him, was Colin Cho, a sixth grader and the school’s official greeter. After being driven in a motorcade to the old Tullytown schoolhouse, and then given a short tour of Levittown, Disney was brought to the new school. There, he laid the cornerstone to the accompaniment of songs from his many films played by the children’s school band. Once inside the building, Disney was joined by six children who alternately held his hand and led him on a grand tour of the school. He walked the halls with them and visited every classroom. Special Saturday classes were in session for the occasion, and the master story teller delighted students by telling stories and imitating some of his characters.In the Bambi room, he told them parts of the Bambi story. In the Donald Duck room, he imitated Donald. In the Mickey Mouse room, he was the voice of Mickey. In the Pluto room, he stood at a piano and plunked out, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” He posed for photos and joked with parents and teachers. Those who were there that day still remember that Disney seemed to enjoy himself as much as the children. Later, the children entertained him in their auditorium with their own special Disneyland show.Disney reportedly liked what he saw of Levittown. He commented on the way the community was laid out, “with plenty of room for gardening.” When asked if he would ever come back, he indicated that he had no immediate plans to return, but someday he probably would. Unfortunately, he never did. Seven years later he was gone, succumbing to cancer at age 66.In contrast to children in 1955, who saw Disney each week on his television show, few of today’s youngsters even recognize him. Echoing comments of other recent principals, current principal Fay Manicke commented, “It’s sad that many of the children who today attend the school look up at the large framed photograph of Disney in the school lobby and ask, “Who’s that?”

I took a quick look at each of the above schools history, if they had any. Each and every one that told about how their school was named were extremley proud of the fact that it was the students that came up with Walt's name.

So, I am going to classify this post as, "I Learned Something While Surfing the Net the Other Day."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Ok I'm 3 doors away from the Anaheim one. And was told he did come to this one and that day he invited every child to come to his park... As the legend goes the schools 6th grade class goes at the end of every year .... and the pictures in the cafeteria really look good .like disney did them