Lisa Haley was only 4 years old when she attended a groundbreaking ceremony for Haley Elementary School and she still remembers it.
Fifty years ago, the school that was built and named for her grandfather J. Wilbur Haley opened its doors. He spent 36 years working for Fort Wayne Community Schools, retiring in 1965 as assistant superintendent of instruction.
On Wednesday, Haley Elementary honored its namesake with a party and the opening of a time capsule buried 25 years ago on school grounds.
Lisa Haley and other family members including her father, Alvin John Haley, cousins, siblings and nieces, returned to the school at Maplecrest Road and East State Boulevard to join the festivities.
“It's really neat because he was such a neat guy,” Lisa Haley said.
Alvin John Haley said his father would have been really pleased “to be remembered in this way.”
Nathan Spicer, Haley principal for 21 years of his 39 years spent with FWCS, described his time at Haley as “great adventure and for 21 years it was just that.”
Science fairs, musicals, spelling bees and much more. “I can't imagine being anywhere else,” Spicer said.
Brandon White succeeded him, and today Brian Howard is the principal. All three presided over the time capsule.
In the capsule was spirit wear, old PTA programs, photographs, a book of Disney's “The Lion King” and a thick copy of The Journal Gazette, among other items.
The Eifrid family was there to share happy memories. Mother Stephanie Eifrid works as a secretary there. Her son Nathan, 15, and now at Snider High School, recalled all the friends he made.
His sister Claudia, an eighth grader at Blackhawk Middle School, said all the principals were so “welcoming” and greeted everyone with excitement. “My fifth grade teacher prepared me for middle school a lot,” Claudia said. Claudia continues to visit her alma mater, volunteering whenever she can, she said.
No doubt J. Wilbur Haley would have approved of the enthusiasm.
He started his career in 1924 in Hartford City and relocated in 1929 as a teacher at Bloomingdale Elementary School, according to an online FWCS biography. Haley taught at Franklin Elementary School and Central High School and was principal at Miner Elementary School, Washington Junior High School and Central High. In 1954, he was appointed director of elementary and special education and in 1963 as assistant superintendent of instruction. He died in 1992.