By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Former and current teachers, students and staff members of Salina School, 2623 Salina, filled the hallways in the school where they met up with each other, during the 100th anniversary ceremony on Oct. 26.
Alumni from different generations and ages shared stories about their days at the school, signed a “100” poster with their names and years at the school, roamed the building just like they did during their days there, and looked at photos commemorating all walks of life who attend or worked at Salina.
“We see an awful lot of happy faces tonight and that does our hearts a lot of good because people are seeing people they have not seen for many, many years and it’s wonderful to be here at a happy event,” Former Salina student, attorney and master of ceremonies Tony Guerrero said. “Welcome to the greatest school in the greatest neighborhood on this planet.”
According to a Dearborn Public Schools press release, Salina School opened in 1918 as a two-room school house, but the growing community quickly needed a larger facility.
“The current Salina Intermediate was built in 1920 on the location of that first school,” the release read. “Several additions were made to the building over the years, and in 2003 Salina Elementary was built next door to house preschool through third grade students.”
As the evening went on, attendees made their way to the auditorium where speeches from former students and teachers told about how the school shaped them, the pride they had and how they went on to become successful in a variety of career fields.
During the ceremony, Jerry Hubbard and the Rhythmics performed and tributes to film comedian and actor Joe Penner; actress, singer and dancer Adele Mara; and actor Martin Shakar were shown. All three were former Salina School students.
Current Salina Principal Jamel Lawera was one of the first speakers to address the crowd and spoke of his family’s time at the school.
“I’m honored to be part of the 100-year anniversary,” he said. My mother and my family went here from 1950 to 1968 and they are here today also. I’m very happy I am able to welcome them back to their school like many of you have come back today.”
DPS Supt. Glenn Maleyko spoke about his 12 years working at Salina where his teaching career began in 1997. He went on to become assistant principal and then earned the principal position at the school before transferring to DuVall Elementary School in 2009, working as principal, which he said was an emotional decision.
“I have a lot of memories here,” he said. “I went up with a couple of my former teachers and we took pictures — I was up in room 305 as a teacher. The memories are special, I can see it in your faces. Guess what? Those are the memories I see when I go out in the community and people talk about Salina.
“I was here 12 years. I love Salina. It’s who I am and it’s in my heart. You’re all family to me. It helped form me as a professional really.”
Dearborn Councilwoman and attorney Susan Dabaja got emotional when speaking about the attending Salina School and living on the south end for 20 years.
“You don’t understand how special it feels for me to stand on this stage tonight,” she said. “I remember getting some of my first Christmas toys from ACCESS, I remember practicing pom-pon up here, I remember a lot of things, and my fondest memories are of Salina on the South End.
I want to thank every teacher here that really made a huge effect on who I am today. I am only where I am today as the council president of the city of Dearborn because of Salina School and the south end community.”
Former Salina student athlete and teacher Ted Berce told the crowd about how he was only eight years younger than the 1918 school building and his teaching career.
“After moving on to Fordson and graduating from the University of Michigan I came back to the south end and began my teaching career here at Salina in 1951,” he said. “While I was at Salina I taught junior high math for 10 years and I helped out in physical education.
“I want to acknowledge the great teaching staff that Salina had when I was here probably because I was here and those who were students at that time were very fortunate.”
To watch the entire ceremony video go to the DPS YouTube page, dpscommdept.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)