WOODS CROSS — Music through the years has gone from vinyl records to eight track tapes, then to cassettes tapes and to CDs and to M3P players and I-Pods; and, all were seen through the years at J.A. Taylor Elementary School.
Students from the school brought to stage some of the songs from the past 50 years during a 50-year birthday celebration for Taylor. Music means a lot to many of the students and especially to the most famous student who attended J.A. Taylor Elementary from 2000 to 2002, Utah’s own idol David Archuleta.
Students from the past came to reminisce by looking through the yearbooks and photo albums from their childhood school.
“It is fun to look at these pictures when I was young. My daughter looks exactly like me,” said Michelle Christensen Gardiner, who attended Taylor Elementary from kindergarten through sixth grade.
She pointed to the picture of students on the steps inside the State Capitol and said, “We went to the State Capitol during the bicentennial.”
A display of old newspaper clippings, pet rocks, vinyl records, photo books and clothing helped bring back memories of the years students spent at the loved school.
The Nichols brothers — Jacob, Josh and Hunter — all attended J.A. Taylor Elementary in Centerville, so they attended Thursday’s birthday celebration held at Woods Cross High School. Now all three boys are students at Centerville Junior High.
Jacob said he loved his sixth-grade teacher at Taylor and added, “The field trip we took to another school for space camp was awesome.”
Hunter was a student at Taylor when construction was underway to update the old school. He said it was kind of scary to look at the area closed off to students. He also remembers having a broken arm while in elementary school, although he did not break it at school.
Josh had a fond memory of the years he was in kindergarten and first grade.
“What I remember most is the cheer for the custodian. Everybody did it but I didn’t know why,” said Josh Nichols.
The school was named for a prominent Bountiful resident Junius Albert Taylor, who went by the initials J.A. His granddaughter Carylyn Nelson, who now teaches at Foxboro Elementary in North Salt Lake, said she never heard her grandfather called anything but J.A., so the school name reflects what he was called.
J.A. Taylor was elected mayor of Bountiful in 1926 and again in 1943. He also served on the city council for eight years.
According to Nelson, he was the first principal of Bountiful Junior High School (formerly known as South Davis Junior High School). He became principal of Bountiful Junior High in 1916 and retired in 1952 after completing 36 years as principal. At that time, he was the longest tenured principal at one school in the state, she said.
Taylor, who was born in 1883 and died in 1968, spent a total of 48 years as an educator.
Taylor was the main speaker at the dedicatory services of the school named in his honor, Taylor Elementary School in 1960.
Ralph Davis was the first principal of the school when the dance “The Twist” became popular, so the sixth-graders performed their version during the celebration.
Each grade level performed music from each decade the school has seen. Including music from the musical “Grease,” “Ghostbusters,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Hoedown Throw Down” and “Fireflies.”
First-grade students helped recall the late 1960s by singing and dancing to the Beatles “Yellow Submarine.”
Preschool classes performed on film the song “On Top of Spaghetti.”
Each of the living principals spoke during the video presentation and several of them were present. One of those principals, Talmadge Robinson, who will celebrate his 80th birthday this week, recalled one of his most vivid memories.
One morning when he went to school early there was a bat roaring up and down the halls.
“I picked up a dust mop and played Mickey Mantle and when the bat came by I whopped him,” Robinson said in the video presentation.
Jean Madsen served as principal at Taylor for 10 years. She retired one year after leaving the school. Her most memorial event was when the school received national recognition for excellence and was one of only two in the state that was invited to Washington D.C. She and the student body president were able to take the trip.
Other principals include Marilyn Dahl, Rod Green and Rebecca Parkin as well as the present principal Vicki Corwin.
“We have a long standard of tradition with well educated and prepared students. We honor the past and prepare for the future,” said Corwin.
“I loved this,” said sixth-grade student Brecklin Winder of the 50th birthday celebration held for J.A. Taylor Elementary School.
“This is just a little school but I love it. I loved the song we sang,” she said while dressed in a tie dyed shirt and Hawaiian lei, eating a cupcake.