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West Jordan Journal

Families celebrate Terra Linda Elementary’s 45th year

Nov 03, 2017 03:22PM ● By Jet Burnham

Diego Fahrni found a picture of his father as a child. His cousin, father, uncle, grandmother and great-uncle have all attended Terra Linda. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

Terra Linda Elementary is all about families. For 45 years, families have been attending the West Jordan school. In September, an open house celebration was held to commemorate its students, teachers, staff and traditions.

“Coming in here is like flashback right to the past,” said Kristen Fletcher, who graduated from Terra Linda 10 years ago. She and her sister Emily came to the celebration to reminisce with their mother, Wendy Fletcher, who also attended. Wendy and her son even had the same teacher—Mr. Torrez. A total of 17 members of their family have attended the school.

 “We all stayed in the area, and all of our kids and grandkids are going to come here,” said Fletcher. “We loved this school—still do!”

Terra Linda pride often runs in families. The Fahrni family members have been learning at Terra Linda since it opened in 1972. Kitty Fahrni, her brother, her two sons and two grandsons have all attended the school. 

PTA Scrapbooks from 1972 to 2006 were on display for alumnus to explore. People found pictures of themselves, their siblings and their friends. A pictorial timeline on the wall showed the trends, the music and the movies of each decade as well as the progression of fashion and hair styles. The scrapbooks held class pictures and memories of some of the ongoing traditions at Terra Linda including kindergarten Leprechaun Traps, assemblies and Principal’s Pride recognitions. 

Current and past students, faculty and neighbors were invited to the celebration. Principal Karen Gorringe said the evening’s activities were themed around what was popular in 1972. 

“When our school opened, that was the year pet rocks came out—that’s why they’re painting rocks,” said Gorringe. Kids also brought shirts to tie dye. Families posed for pictures in a colorful cut-out of a Volkswagen van. More than 200 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the PTA.

The PTA has always had a lot of support from Terra Linda families, said Karleen Stoker, who was the PTA President from 1984 to 1986. She and her husband perused the scrapbooks for pictures of their four children. 

“The teachers were just outstanding,” said Stoker. “The parents just supported PTA, and they were good with the children and came out to all the activities.” 

Jon Stinson found friends in his old class pictures; he is still in contact with some. He found a picture of a classmate who grew up to be a marine in Iraq. He also stayed in contact with a former classmate, Lacey, whom he ended up marrying. Their daughter, Sadie, is currently a kindergartener at Terra Linda.  

The Stinsons attended Terra Linda Elementary, starting as kindergartners in 1989 and 1990, where they each unknowingly had a crush on each other. They noted many changes the school has experienced. They remember old computer labs with big floppy disks, playing buns-up at recess and a sandbox right outside the kindergarten doors. In sixth grade, Jon participated in a pilot Spanish class that he said only lasted one year. Lacey remembers square dancing and “the store” the fourth-graders ran. 

“We used to ride our bikes on the dirt road to get here,” said Lacey. That dirt road is now Bangerter Highway and the TRAX line.

Many remember the many changes in the faculty and in the building over the last 45 years. The open-style classrooms which were popular in the ’80s were walled-in during the ’90s. Ten years ago, the front entrance was rebuilt as was the roof when it caved in during the 2007–2008 school year.

Past and present faculty also attended at the celebration. Teachers spotted friends among pictures and swapped stories of students and families. Lori McCarty, Christine Lilly, Rochel Weber and Lindsey Pettibone all used to teach together at Terra Linda. McCarty is now the only teacher still at the school, though they all remain close.

“Faculty was tight; I always felt like it was a family,” said Pettibone, who taught at the school for eight years.

Lilly, whose children also attended the school, taught for 23 years at Terra Linda. 

“This feels like home. I used to tell everyone that they were going to bury me back in the playground,” said Lilly, who had intended to stay until retirement. “I loved the families that were here.”