Gretchen Everhart School celebrates 50 years of giving students a place to call their own

The Gretchen Everhart school celebrated 50 years Friday with a reunion.
The Gretchen Everhart school celebrated 50 years Friday with a reunion.(WCTV)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 11:05 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Gretchen Everhart School welcomed back former students, teachers, and staff as the tight-knit community celebrated the pioneering school’s fiftieth anniversary.

The school caters to students learning with intellectual disabilities. The area had never seen that kind of educational approach when the school opened in 1971.

The occasion also served as a ribbon cutting for ‘Owl’s Landing,’ a new outdoor space for the school’s older students.

Principal Jane Floyd Bullen was beaming, excited to officially debut the innovative space.

“We really feel so lucky as a school to have so many people that support us,” she said.

Bullen is the school’s fourth principal. Three of the four principals were in attendance Friday night, including Susan Raker, who served in the role first.

“It amazes me what I see now,” Raker said.

Gretchen Everhart was in charge of the special needs division of Leon County Schools in the 1960s. Raker joined her bold mission, hoping to change lives.

“Gretchen Everhart, she was a polio victim. And she was short and chubby- maybe that’s why we got along,” Raker said.

The duo was determined to cater to an invisible crowd.

“They did not have special schools. The children that went here were not in school, anywhere,” she said.

Over the decades, school leaders faced plenty of skepticism but never wavered.

“I always believed it would succeed, always. And, anybody that worked here believed that,” she said.

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