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School Celebration Marks 60 Years
California Avenue School is 60 years old.

Half a dozen teachers and principals who worked there in its first days were honored during Wednesday's celebration at the school when current parents and children also examined displays of fading photographs, watched a video interview of two early day teachers and sampled slices of birthday cake.

The school actually opened on Sept. 13 of 1948, said teacher Paulette Roberson, who organized the event and has herself spent 39 years working for the Riverbank Unified School District at all its schools.

The birthday project all started, she said, when her principal Laurie Sacknitz asked her one day when the school was founded and encouraged her to find out, even forming a committee to help her research.

Josephine Landon, who taught third grade at the school in its first year, attended the birthday celebration in person and was the subject of an interview cast on a large screen for the crowd.

Mary Bucknam who was hired to teach art at the school in the 1960s and later instructed third graders there for 13 years also came to the event and was featured with Landon in the video interview put together by Roberson.

"There were no telephones in the school," Landon recalled in the video. "I had the third graders, two classes, 52 of them in all. We were out of space from the start. If a student missed school for more than two days in a row, they lost their desk. But I had no discipline problems at all."

Landon was a young and inexperienced teacher, Roberson noted. She had taught for the first time at Cardozo School in 1946, taken a year off to pursue further teaching studies, and then came to California Avenue in 1948.