Before school ended on Oct. 24 at Westwood Elementary School, students, faculty, and staff gathered on the field and assembled into the shape of the number 60 to announce the school’s 60th anniversary. After a photo session, students ran to grab some cake, offered by the school’s PTA. About 700 slices of plain vanilla cake were provided.
“It’s important for our students to understand where things have come from, and to understand there was something that came before them,” says Pamela Galano, principal of Westwood Elementary School. “Many families have grown up in this same area. Their parents have gone to this school. Many teachers here were once students at this school.”
Jeff Cooper is a former student who is now a fourth grade teacher at Westwood.
Cooper has been part of the Santa Clara Unified School District for 16 years and has also taught at Pomeroy Elementary School. He began attending Westwood around 1974 when he was in second grade. His favorite teacher was the late Mrs. Wasley.
“The fields used to be wide open; they have all these portables out there now, but those weren’t there before,” Cooper says. “I remember utilizing these fields. We would run around there like crazy. Today Westwood is still a beautiful campus. There’s a lot of green here. Kids grow things here. We also have a little grove of trees that we call ‘the forest.'”
In his fourth and fifth grade classes, Cooper has taught students whose parents were his classmates.
“I have friends that I grew up with at Westwood that I am still friendly with today,” he says. “This place was the foundation for my educational life. The teachers instilled knowledge that I took with me.”
Another notable alumnus of Westwood is Mayor Jamie Matthews, who attended Westwood Open from fourth to sixth grade.
“Westwood School [has] an exceptional community of people and teachers. I attended the school, as well as my four children,” says Matthews, who proudly refers to himself as a Westwood Wildcat. “My third grade teacher, Mrs. Russell, was my favorite teacher. She encouraged me to take music classes. That led to a lifetime passion for music.”
“I was told that there were two schools on one campus for a number of years until the Westwood Open school needed more space, and then they became Washington Open at their current site by Buchser,” says Galano.
Galano intends to continue the positive work of Andrew Lucia, the school’s former principal.
“I like our composting and recycling program; the students just seem to know what gets composted, and what goes into the garbage,” she says. “I love being the principal of Westwood. It has been a very positive change to be here.”