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February 7, 2003

Byron Kibler celebrates 50 years of Excellence!

Former Kibler Principal Insights

Ron May remembers arriving as the new Principal at Byron Kibler Elementary School in July of 1973.

It quickly became apparent that administering a primary school was going to be somewhat different than the K-6 school I had just left.

The first task given me at Kibler was setting up a Library geared for our young children. Fortunately I had excellent help from Thelma Linney, Marjorie Worthington and several volunteers.

Getting school started that first fall provided some special experiences for me. For example, locating and arranging the 110 or so kindergarten children, split into morning and afternoon classes and the transporting of them from home to school and back home again was a unique challenge. Mae Nichols, Ron Malidore and the bus drivers kept me out of trouble on that task.

Being Principal at Kibler became a delightful job. The children were exuberant, talented and rearing to learn. Parents were very cooperative and supportive. The Kibler staff members were highly professional, warm and conscientious people.

I was Principal at Kibler School for the next fourteen years. Don't tell anyone, but it just had to be one of the best jobs in all of Enumclaw.

Byron Kibler Elementary School is celebrating its fiftieth birthday in 2003. Named after the first school principal in the history of the Enumclaw School District and one of Enumclaw’s pioneers, Byron Kibler Elementary School has been a beloved school home to at least three generations of five-year olds who excitedly entered kindergarten doorways at 2057 Kibler Ave.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Nelson – a Kibler graduate recalls, “So many of our community members learned to read while attending Kibler. I can remember being allowed to bring the first book that I ever read home to my parents so I could read to them." Dr. Art Jarvis, Superintendent, also commented, “All three of my now-adult children started school at Kibler. We lived close enough that they walked to school – it was part of the world that was Kibler – it has always been such a warm, safe place."

Vivid memories of Kibler recollect images of teachers who spent their lives giving to the children there. Some spent most, if not all, of their teaching careers in this venerable building after it opened in 1953. Judy Sellers, kindergarten teacher who retired last June, began teaching at Kibler thirty-five years earlier in 1967. Names of former teachers Elsie Urk, Ramona Harder, Alice Campbell, Beatta Schwisow, and many, many others are engraved on the hearts of former Kibler students as icons.

Principals Ray O’Dell, Ron May, Mary O’Connor, Gayl Hinshaw and Ron Swanson have collectively shepherded thousands of the community’s most precious little citizens through their first years of schooling. Kibler Elementary has also seen many changes over its fifty year life. Class sizes up to forty students were commonplace at one time.

At one time burgeoning school enrollments forced construction of temporary walls in the gymnasium to aide hosting over seven hundred students, almost twice the number of students now enrolled. A west wing was added to the school in 1956, a small office addition was constructed in 1989, and a permanent library addition was built on the northeast corner in 1992.

The original investment of $240,515 for the school included a central kitchen, which provided lunches throughout the District until 2001. Now the Enumclaw School District celebrates this golden anniversary and simultaneously ponders the future for this fifty year-old school. School buildings are typically in need of major modernization within thirty years because of physical “breakdowns" of major systems. Codes change significantly for reasons of life-safety and health. One example of this changing standard is air quality, not a major issue in 1953, but now often seen as a significant health concern.

A Facilities Study and Survey committee of citizens, parents and staff will be looking carefully at this and making recommendations to the Board of Directors in March. Happy Birthday Byron Kibler Elementary! We parents and staff salute your storied history and say thanks for taking such great care of us, our children and our grandchildren.