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Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts to celebrate 100 years

Excitement mounts as Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts prepares to commemorate its 100-year anniversary. Culminating in a three-day event, the centennial will celebrate current students and staff, as well as honoring previous administrators and alumni.

Organized by a committee consisting of local community members and current faculty, the event will be “an incredible way to celebrate education and the Benton Heights community, past and present,” said Benton Heights Arts Coordinator Frank Casstevens.

Founded in 1912, Benton Heights has experienced a tremendous amount of change through the years. When the doors opened for the first time 100 years ago, it was called Benton Hill. It had nine students in attendance who were taught by two teachers (one was the principal). Students only attended school up until the 11th grade.

The school then became Benton Heights Junior High School, but in the 1960s it transformed into an elementary school. Its alumni include former state Sen. Aaron Plyler.

Today the school boasts of more than 700 students in grades ranging from pre-K to fifth. It’s currently partnered with the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, which is reflected in the name Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts.

As part of the celebration, current students will perform a “Parade of Decades” on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, during which each grade level will be assigned a different decade and participate in centennial-themed activities. The school will also be available for alumni tours on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.

The festivities continue on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, when Benton Heights hosts its annual PTA Fall Carnival featuring games, a D.J., rides, food vendors and fun for the entire family. In addition, there will be live performances including the Lancaster Community Choir, a local R&B group, student cloggers and Waxhaw artist Tom Risser who will unveil his 100th sculpture that will be donated to the school.

As an added treat, the school’s arts faculty will present workshops in music, drama and dance.

The school will also be sealing a time capsule to commemorate the special event, with plans to open it in 50 years. The capsule will contain special projects completed by each homeroom at Benton Heights. Casstevens is hopeful that this involvement will help students develop a “strong sense of pride in their school” as well as being an uplifting experience which they will remember for many years to come.

Saturday evening will conclude with a casual dinner at Wingate University’s Cuddy Arena. The evening will feature speakers who will share their own experiences at Benton Heights, including Henry Helms and Caitlyn Brown, two of the top academic as well as top arts students from last year’s graduating class. Diners will be entertained by the big band sounds of "Reflections," who will play before and during dinner.

All former and current administration, staff and students are invited to join in this celebration. For more information about Benton Height’s centennial celebration, please contact Benton Heights Arts Coordinator, Frank Casstevens at frank.casstevens@ucps.k12.nc.us or call Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts at 704-296-3100.

Written by: Courtney Wright, UCPS Communications Intern
Video by: Con Mace, UCPS Web Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 06, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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