We are Michelle Landry and Debby Franzoni, presently teachers at the Ray School. This project began…well, that is impossible to tell. How the two of us met and how we got to this point of drafting a history of the Ray School, frankly, is on the one hand, a mystery, and on the other, a perfect example of what happens when someone gets an idea that takes hold at the Ray School. One minute Colonial Days for second graders was a day of living history away from school to culminate the study of Colonial times, the next, the Colonial House was built on the property.
Whatever led us to this, an album and DVD of Ray School Memories, it all happened in 39 days, beginning with the first interview on May 9, and ending with a little ceremony at the Colonial House on June 17. During that time we interviewed 17 people, retired teachers, past school board members, the architect of the school and the superintendent of schools during the building planning phases in the late 1960′s. Michelle edited the tapes and Debby wrote articles for the memory album from notes taken during the interviews. Essays were also collected from both current teachers and retired teachers. As the writing was completed, Michelle collected pictures to give context to the articles. Together we created the DVD, with help from Bob Franzoni at Community Access Television station.
With the help of Rosemary Ayres, Ray School Curriculum Coordinator, we organized this album.
Working on this project, despite the long hours, and in the end, crashing deadlines, was always pure fun. At first it seemed like a necessary chore, but in time it became a labor of love as we recognized what a wonderful place this school is. Not only is the setting beautiful and beautifully maintained, but the people who have been touched by it are genuinely dedicated, continuing to make it an ideal place for children to learn. That became obvious in the response to our requests for an interview. People wanted to help. The idea of the project, to create a history through memories, excited them. They came with wonderful stories and reminiscences that fill these pages and the DVD.
And, what fun we had meeting these people! It was like meeting the characters in a story. And those we never met, we felt we got to know through others’ stories of them, like Bernice A. Ray.
What we should not have been surprised to find is that these stories of the past explain the present. So much is around us we had never really seen: artifacts, as well as traditions, some still existing, others remaining as a part of what still exists, while others are a part of our past still embedded in our present.
We loved hearing people like Ruth Dennis Hubbard, retired second grade teacher, express delight to think that her idea of spending a day in a living history reenactment of Colonial Days, is still practiced. Or, to hear Martha Robb, a parent of four boys, now graduated, surprised to find out that the A.R.T. at Ray project, which she and Eleanor Schmakel created in the 1990′s, is still carried out each year.
As for the two of us, learning the history of these things has made our experience with the school deeper and richer. We hope those who read these pages will feel the same way.
We do regret that due to our short time frame we were unable to involve the children. When they do get involved at another time, this beginning will help them see what the history of The Ray School looks like and show them what needs to be uncovered.
We learned from this project that there is something special here, and our lives are more enriched from being a part of it. We learned there is something special about The Ray School that people carry with them where ever they go.
Michelle Landry, Second Grade Teacher
Debby Franzoni, Retired (as of June 30, 2008) PE Teacher
June 17, 2008