Oak View celebrates decade of education


Published: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 11:22 p.m.

Representatives from the Alachua County School Board were joined by parents, faculty and the current and past principals of Oak View Middle School last to celebrate the school's first 10 years.

"Oak View Middle School is the best kept secret in Alachua County," said Joan Longstreth, who guided the school through its first seven years of operation as Oak View's principal.

Longstreth, who is now principal at Buchholz High School, attributed the success of the school to those who helped create a sense of family atmosphere for its students.

She used Ron Harper, head custodian and security director, as an example. He helped while Oak View was under construction and has been at the school since day one.

"It is home and it is tradition," Longstreth said. "And no one worked harder than Ron Harper to open this school.

"He walked the site and building every day while it was being built," she continued. "He loves the community and school more than anyone I know."

Once called the Taj Mahal of schools in the county, Oak View was designed by many of the people who still work there.

On the day of the anniversary celebration, faculty and staff wore ribbons: blue for those who have come to Oak View in the last decade and white ribbons represented those who had been with the school since before it opened its doors and worked to design the building and grounds.

After Longstreth's tenure, Phil Wright became principal for two years. Wright also attended the celebration and thanked faculty and staff for the opportunity to serve.

Last year, Herschel Lyons was appointed principal. He said it made perfect sense for him to come to Oak View because he started his career as an administrator under the tutelage of Longstreth at Newberry Junior/Senior High.

"I am blessed to be here at such a great school," said Lyons. "My predecessors set a great path and the tradition continues."

Faculty wanted to let Longstreth know that some of her traditions continued at the school, such as the special class designations she assigned the three grades at the school.

The eighth grade is known as the Panthers, seventh as the Eagles and sixth graders belong to Wolfpack.

"Oak View is my home; it's family," said Longstreth. "The years I spent here were the absolute best years in my entire career.

"It's not the school, it's the people that make Oak View an 'A' school and make Oak View the absolute best," she said. "Thank you for bringing me home."

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