Sunset Park Elementary celebrates 10 years

The Horizon West school opened Nov. 7, 2007. Some teachers have been there the entire time.

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  • | 4:34 p.m. November 17, 2017
Sunset Park Elementary recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Sunset Park Elementary recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
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HORIZON WEST On Nov. 7, 2007, Orange County Public School officials celebrated the opening and dedication of the new Sunset Park Elementary School.

Now, 10 years later, the school is celebrating its 10th anniversary - a milestone that was celebrated by faculty, students and parents on Friday, Nov. 10, with a celebratory movie night hosted by the Parent-Teacher Organization.

“Its just an amazing school, and I feel very lucky to be here,” said Principal Janet Bittick. “Why I do what I do is because of the students. I love the hugs. I love the high-fives every day.”

Several faculty members have been at the school since its opening and can remember what it was like that first year, including second-grade teacher Jacqueline Hool.

“Being part of the opening staff at a school 10 years ago was exciting,” Hool said. “You felt the positivity, motivation and the desire to set the educational bar high among all of the staff. It truly was a memorable experience.”

After that first year, Hool said she fell in love with teaching at Sunset Park.

“Making the decision to come back year after year is easy when you teach at Sunset Park Elementary,” she said. “We have amazing teachers, an incredible PTO who take extremely good care of us, and I have the opportunity to teach children who want to strive for excellence.”

During the last decade, Sunset Park faced overcrowding issues. For the 2014-15 school year, its population reached about 1,300 students. However, following the opening of Independence Elementary in 2015 and Bay Lake Elementary in 2016, the school reached a more manageable student body of about 860 students.

“We’re a nice size now and holding steady,” Bittick said.

Despite the challenges of overcrowding, the school kept an “A” rating for its 10 years of operation.

And the school’s success has been a community effort, said Pam Dyer, president of the PTO.

“Sunset Park staff, students, and parents are like family; we all enjoy working together toward a common goal,” Dyer said. “It takes a village. And with 10 years under our belt, the scholars have come to enjoy a variety of special PTO traditions, like our annual Fall Festival, Grandparents' Night, holiday shop, Spring Fling and the 5th Grade Celebration. These celebrations are a huge hit among our Soaring Eagles.”

For Hool, the best thing about the school is the camaraderie between teachers and parents.

“My favorite thing about Sunset Park is the feeling of fellowship with the staff and the families of the community,” she said. “I have been around long enough to teach multiple siblings, and I have developed wonderful relationships with these families. Teachers and parents have the same goal every year and that is to make their child as successful as possible, and when we can work together to make that happen, it's a beautiful thing.”


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