CEDAR CITY — Fiddlers Canyon Elementary recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, with hundreds of students celebrating the occasion with a birthday party in front of the school.
At the beginning of her remarks during the half-hour ceremony held the afternoon of Oct. 26, Principal Michelle Hall shared a few iconic things that date back to 1983, like the Super Mario Brothers video game, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.
Hall then introduced the grade-level winners of the school-wide contests that asked students to draw or write what they love about their school. After poster contest winners Emmy Reynolds, Ezraiah Sisana, Harlee Nielsen and Ian Wells were recognized and given prizes, essay winners Dayla Mason and Tabitha Phong read aloud their winning entries.
“I love all the fun traditions we have at Fiddlers,” Mason said, adding, “This is the best school in the world.”
After mentioning several of her favorite things about the school and its teachers, Phong concluded her essay by saying, “These reasons are why Fiddlers is the funnest, coolest school ever.”
Also giving brief remarks was the school’s first principal, Steven Baker, who served from 1983-93.
“One of the things that I remember about the first year of school here was we had no playground,” Baker said. “It took us a while to be able to put in playground equipment for all of you boys and girls to be able to enjoy.”
Steven Baker, who was Fiddlers Canyon Elementary’s first principal, speaks during ceremony marking the school’s 40th anniversary, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 26, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News
Baker said it wasn’t uncommon to see wildlife on school grounds back in the early days.
“I remember that it wasn’t unusual to find deer out here on our east lawns,” he said. “They would come in in the evening. It was not unusual either to find rattlesnakes on occasion that came to our school. I think they wanted to get an education too, but we wouldn’t let them in. We made sure that they stayed away.”
Baker said that the school had an anticipated initial enrollment of 300, so when 350 students showed up the first day, they had to scramble to find and hire a couple more teachers. The school, now known for its Chinese dual immersion program, currently has an enrollment of around 565.
Baker also thanked Frank Nichols for donating the land for the school to be built and added that during the building’s dedicatory prayer had asked that the school would always provide a “warm environment for students so that they would come here and feel safe.”
Fourth-grade dual immersion teacher Terri Linford was thanked by Hall for her efforts in spearheading the celebratory event. A few dozen Fiddlers adult alumni were also in attendance, along with school district officials and a few of the construction workers that helped build the school more than four decades ago.
Also during the ceremony, the students joined in singing a few musical numbers, including “Proud to be an American” and the school song, which begins, “I will follow the Mustang way … .”
Afterward, the grown-ups gathered for reception in the school’s media center while the students went to the gymnasium for an end-of-day dance party.
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