Jun. 8—SUPERIOR — There were cheers, tears and an all-grade parade when Northern Lights Elementary School celebrated its 20th birthday on June 2.
"It's really nice to see all the people that were such a big part of our lives for so many years," said Pam Radtke, who retired from teaching at the elementary school in 2020.
"I've been gone for just nine years, and I can see a lot of familiar faces," said retired teacher Mary Zastrow.
Northern Lights, which brought together Blaine and Pattison elementary schools, opened in the 2002-2003 school year. Many of the teachers and staff who taught the first classes at the school — including kindergarten teachers Jodie Rudnicki and Kirstie Zauhar, first grade teachers Krista Nosan and Jennifer Bjork, third grade teachers Jess Brozic and Jenni Wolfe, physical education teacher Kris Leopold, counselor Kryssi Plasch and paraprofessional Peggy Kiiski — are still there today.
"It feels good," Plasch said. "You know, it's still the same energy level. We still have the same energy. We have such great families and kids and staff. We love it."
Among the retired teachers and staff who dropped by to celebrate were Linda Berg and Lori Olson; Jori Walt, who wrote the school song; newly retired school resource officer Mike Kendall; and former principals Robyn Deshayes and Debbie Woods.
A pair of Superior High School seniors, Diedrick Nikoi and Ben Flint, returned to celebrate as well. The two are Northern Lights alumni.
"It's very nostalgic," said Nikoi, who plans to attend Loyola University in the fall to pursue a degree in environmental science. "I mean everything's smaller and everyone says that, but it's weird coming back to see the rooms I learned in and everything. It's really cool to see my old teachers, see this new class of students. It's really fun."
He pointed out his former teachers and said he's come full circle.
"A lot of different memories. I really loved my time here," Nikoi said.
A video celebrating the event was played
and a new bench, created by Spartan Manufacturing, was unveiled. It will be placed in the main entryway to mark the school's 20th anniversary.
Then it was time for the parade.
Students marched around the school with signs, led by fifth grade students playing the recorder, retired teachers and staff, and the two SHS seniors. Some students handed out pieces of paper with positive messages like "You rock" and "We are Stars at Northern Lights!"
"It's nice to see all the people again. In many ways it has not changed," Olson said.
They had a good turnout, she said.
"It was nice to see so many faces come back," Olson said.
The school district released videos celebrating the 20th anniversary and listing the
top 20 things about Northern Lights Elementary School,