Fifty years marks a major milestone and this year, South Elementary School in Neosho is celebrating their 50th birthday. Current staff and the student body turned out for a birthday event last week that was also attended by former teachers, staff, parents, and students.

Fifty years marks a major milestone and this year, South Elementary School in Neosho is celebrating their 50th birthday. Current staff and the student body turned out for a birthday event last week that was also attended by former teachers, staff, parents, and students.
South School Principal Lee Woodward welcomed the guests for the special occasion. "South is rich in Neosho history," she said. "And our theme this year is 'be ourselves'."
Some students donned birthday crowns to mark their school's birthday.
The ceremony was held in the FEMA gymnasium, the newest building on the school campus.
Former long-time South principal, Robert Allen, was out of town visiting grandchildren and was unable to be present but some fourth-grade students interviewed Allen. "My name is Robert Allen. I used to be Mr. Allen. I was principal here a long time ago," Allen said via video.
He served as principal at South for 28 years. "I love kids," he stated. "We were the South School Tigers at that time and we had a good time." Allen recalled having a student body of around 340 students during his tenure, sometimes increasing to as many as 400 students. "I'm sorry I have to miss the old Tiger days but w had plans."
A large number of former staff members and students were present,
"Thank you all for your time and dedication to our school," Woodward said. She described how she discovered some slides and other memorabilia from the early days of the school. "Last spring, I was cleaning a closet and I found a box. It turned out to be a treasure trove of history."
The box contained slides and photographs from the earliest moments in South's history. The images from the past were incorporated into a video titled 'South Elementary: Then and Now" produced by South kindergarten teacher Kylie Enloe.
"It combines the past history with our present," Woodward said.
The video began with photographs from the groundbreaking and construction to the early days at the school and the school today. "I wonder how South School will change by 2067," Woodward said after the video presentation.
Next on the program agenda was the creation of a time capsule. Plans are that it will be opened in 25 years. Each of the current classes at the school contributed to the capsule. Selected students assisted Woodward with putting the items into the small cylinder which will serve as the time capsule.
Items included a special pennant made for South's birthday celebration, lists of favorite things from each class, a copy of the rediscovered South School song, a program from the event, a commemorative South School 50th birthday t-shirt, and a portable computer drive with the video interview with Allen and students singing the school song.
Music instructor Alicia Dickinson led the students in singing 'This School Is Our School', the South school song, to the tune of 'This Land Is Your Land'.  The song was almost lost forever but when the lyrics were recently discovered, staff members revived the song and its' tradition.
Following the birthday ceremonies, students returned to their classroom to enjoy special South School birthday cookies. Guests were invited to the main building to enjoy cake and other refreshments. Those who attended also had the opportunity to share memories about South and do some catching-up.
The program featured special thanks to Robert Allen for his interview and history, Michael Daughtery, shirt design, Alicia Dickinson, music teacher, Kylie Enloe, video production Melanie Miller, art display, Neosho high school student Wyatt Shadwick for drone footage and photo, and district Public Relations Coordinator Meagan Spangler, graphics.
Woodward also shared some history from the late Hale McGinty, a former school board member and community leader. "At an earlier birthday celebration for South, Hale Mc Ginty told us that before South existed, his children played here. They explored the woods and they picked wild strawberries here. Our students are still exploring daily on the playground."
Woodward echoed the sentiments of many current and past staff, students, and community members when she said, "South School is the best place in the whole world."
With the first fifty years behind them, South is ready to move forward toward the second half century.
South Elementary School is located at 1111 Wornall Street in Neosho. South supporters and fans may follow South Elementary School on Facebook.  Additional photos from the event as well as the 'South School: Then and Now' video are available on the South Facebook page.