DADE CITY — When community members gathered Sept. 30 to mark the 90th anniversary of R.B. Cox Elementary School, among the crowd was an eyewitness to the school's history.
Roberta Holtzhower, 84, first arrived at the big brick building — then known as Dade City Grammar School — in 1938. She attended the school for first through eighth grades.
"It feels great to be here," Holtzhower said, "and to see that the school is still going strong."
The event kicked off what principal Claudia Steinacker called a "yearlong celebration" at the school, which opened in its present location at 37615 Martin Luther King Blvd. on Jan. 3, 1927. The school was renamed R.B. Cox Elementary in honor of a former principal and Pasco schools superintendent who died of cancer in 1973.
"There's so much history," said Steinacker. "The continuous component is that children come every day, every year to grow, learn, hope and dream for a great future."
Through the years, Steinacker said, the school has become far more than an institution of learning for students.
"The school that started out as a basic grammar school now has Head Start and Early Head Start for students as early as 18 months, a dental office and student services that include providing shoes and clothing for students in need," she said. "We also have a brand-new cafeteria, art room and music room. They've made a huge difference."
Steinacker addressed students, faculty and community members at the Sept. 30 celebration, which also included a color guard presentation by Veterans of Foreign Wars Dade Post 4283 and a performance of You're a Grand Old Flag by fifth-grade students. Guests then were invited inside for refreshments and a historical photo display in the school cafeteria.
A number of Pasco County School District professionals attended the celebration, including former Pasco schools principal and current Saint Leo University professor Renee Sedlack.
"So many people have roots at this school," Sedlack said. "It's wonderful."
Superintendent Kurt Browning, the son of a former R.B. Cox Elementary student, was in attendance as well.
"My mother, Willie Browning, went to this school," said Browning. "Ninety years is a pretty incredible milestone. This school is a great place of learning."
R.B. Cox math coach Caroline Graham-Stewart agreed.
"The architecture makes it beautiful on the outside," she said. "The kids make it beautiful inside."