About 300 neighbors, alumni, students, teachers, and elected officials joined together to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Enatai Elementary on Feb. 6.
Enatai is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Bellevue, as well as one of the oldest schools in the Bellevue School District. At the celebration, Principal Amy MacDonald highlighted the increasingly diverse community that now inhabits the Enatai community, compared to previous generations. She noted the word “Enatai,” the Chinook Jargon term meaning “across the water,” is even more meaningful in 2018. The term originally signified the neighborhood’s proximity across Lake Washington from Seattle.
“I think about in 65 years how much that phrase has changed,” said MacDonald to the audience. “We have students now from families who have truly crossed many waters to get to Enatai.”
She said current Enatai students come from nearly every continent, and over 30 different languages are represented in the student body.
“I am so proud of this school community and what we represent,” she added. “When you look at our school, you look at a school that represents the 21st Century.”
Following the ceremony, attendees watched a historical slideshow about Enatai Elementary’s origins, and its transformation over six decades. Many alumni had not visited the school since it was completely rebuilt by the school district in 2016.
Alumnus Paula Dix, who was an Enatai second-grader in 1953, was struck by the changes.
“Just like the city, the school has morphed from plain-and-simple to elegant-and-sophisticated,” she said, recalling how she, and fellow classmates in 1953, were tasked with helping to move furniture into their new school on the first day they entered.
That community spirit from yesteryear was also embodied by Enatai resident Pamela Love, age 100, who was greeted with a round of applause at the anniversary event. Love, who’s lived a few doors from the school since 1952, headed the committee of neighborhood volunteers that landscaped the original building. She was accompanied by her son, Clare Love, one of her seven children who attended Enatai.
Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak attended the event, and in his first official proclamation since becoming mayor last month, he announced that February would be known throughout the city as, “Enatai Elementary School Month,” much to the delight of attendees. Bellevue City Councilmembers Conrad Lee and Janice Zahn also joined the festivities, along with King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci.
Balducci presented the school with a congratulatory proclamation, declaring, “Enatai remains a beacon of academic achievement not only on the Eastside, but throughout the region.”
The opening ceremony at the event reprised elements of the school’s original dedication ceremony that took place in 1953. Both programs began with a student color guard, and the Pledge of Allegiance, and both ended with Enatai students singing “America the Beautiful.”