1930s Buena Vista alum shares experiences

       During most of Ann Tilton Newport's years at Buena Vista Elementary, the Great Depression was on.

Ann Tilton (second from left), then in kindergarten, was dressed as a tulip for a special occasion during the 1929-30 school year at Buena Vista Elementary.
Courtesy of Ann Tilton Newsport

       “We didn't think we were poor,” she recalled, talking to close to 50 staff and students at the school last week. “Everyone was just like us. We didn't know a better life. We made our own fun, which is a wonderful thing to do.”
       She moved on from those years (kindergarten, starting in 1929, through sixth grade) to become a teacher and later an elementary school principal in Aurora.
       Now 84, Newport was asked to speak by Principal David Brilliant. She had written to him after hearing about the District 11 Board of Education's decision to close Buena Vista at the end of this school year, requesting a visit “one more time before it is closed.”
       Her talk recalled various memories of her Buena Vista days, including ink wells (no ball-point pens yet); the gym in the basement; games with clothespins, paper dolls and balls (a tetherball was called a “buff bag”); separate playgrounds for boys and girls; and being seated in rows ranging from high achievers down to the “awkward squad.”
       Drawing in the students in her audience, Newport said, “I had trouble with fractions,” then asked how many of them did, also. Numerous hands shot up.

After a visit from 1930s Buena Vista student Ann Tilton Newport (center) April 21, current students (from left) James Atencio, Josie Kaczmarek, Megan Erickson, Dartanian Layman and Alex Sarris joined her for a photo. Now 84, Newport was a teacher and a principal.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Something else she had in common with the current Buena Vista kids is having gone to West Junior High (now a middle school) while in elementary school. That was during fifth grade when the second floor was being added on Buena Vista's main building, she said.
       With Buena Vista's closure, the students who are not in Montessori will be in the attendance area for the new Westside Elementary opening at West in August.
       Newsport also talked about her rural home life in those days. In the letter to Brilliant, she wrote, “My father used to invite the second grade class each year to come visit his poultry farm and hatchery, which was at the end of North 16th Street but is now covered with houses. We went on field trips in private cars, like the time we went to visit the Fine Arts Center just after it opened. There was a small brown house on the northeast corner of the playground and this housed the janitor and his family. His daughter was my best friend from kindergarten through high school.”

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