Blythe Park School is a neat little building in a quiet residential area of Riverside. While there’s a Blythe Road nearby, the school’s main entrance is actually on Leesley Road. The school takes its name from the small park immediately to the west.
The school has been on my mind of late, since there has been talk of repurposing the little theater in the lower level. Having had children and grandchildren attend the school it brings back memories of pleasant times and events held on that stage.
Holiday programs were held there, with each class having rehearsed (and rehearsed) a program to make all parents and grandparents proud. It seems there was one child in each class during the holiday program who had no interest in entertaining the audience and would stand there quite still waiting for the agony to be over. There is one of my readers who I believe will see himself in that remembrance.
There were other children’s productions, many of them teacher-produced or student-created. Some were presentations from outside groups or speakers, anything that brought more life to school and education.
However, probably the most memorable productions were the PTA Halloween plays dating back to the 1970s and early 1980s. Some were original and some were adapted from children’s stories. It’s hard to say who had more fun, the parents or the children.
Backstage was where much of the fun happened. Parent actors would sometimes speak lines while at others, parents would pantomime to backstage narration. Parents tried all kinds of creative ways to produce sound effects, like crushing macaroni close to the microphone to recreate the sound of walking through leaves.
The stage set artwork by parents Dale and Lavone Brown was recycled often for other shows for years to come. Eileen Grimm sewed many a mom’s costume which were also reused for years.
Perhaps the changes will help make new memories for another generation or two; time will tell.
If you’re interested in finding out more about what may be coming, District 96 is inviting community members to an informal “conversation and coffee” about possible renovations.
Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye, members of the district’s Facility Advisory Committee and the school district’s architect will be there.
You can choose to attend one of two sessions at 8:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. on March 8 in the Blythe Park School library. Contact Cathy Perino at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.