Students, faculty and staff gathered in the interior courtyard at Manetuck Elementary School on Monday to celebrate the of Mary Anderson, the school’s principal.
A tree was planted in honor of Anderson, who announced her retirement earlier this year after more than 40 years in the West Islip School District. In addition, two benches were placed around the tree and a stone with the phrase “It takes a village…Mrs. Anderson” was also included in the display.
“We are here today to honor Mrs. Anderson,” said Robin Caputo, a kindergarten teacher at Manetuck. “She has made countless contributions to West Islip and has been the ‘mom’ to our Manetuck family.”
Caputo said the tree represents the strength and ever growing support Anderson has given to Manetuck, while the benches will provide a place for future students “to learn and blossom.”
During the ceremony, the student body at Manetuck gathered to sing “For Just A Little While,” which was directed by music teacher Karen Isaksen-Taylor.
The two benches that sit near the tree each feature a special message honoring the retiring elementary school principal; one from the school’s parent-teacher association and one from the school’s staff.
The PTA message reads: “They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.” The message from the staff reads: “In honor of Mary Anderson. For her many years of service and dedication to her students and the West Islip community.”
As she unsuccessfully fought back tears throughout the 20-minute ceremony, Anderson said, “Thank you for this wonderful gift. I hope that in some way I have touched your life in the same way that you have touched mine. Just know that part of me will always be with you and part of you will always be with me.”