Wearing purple, Barry Elementary School students in kindergarten through 6th grade gathered in the school’s gymnasium Wednesday morning for the daily announcements and to honor a major donor to the school.
Margaret Barry, daughter of Franklyn S. Barry — Cortland superintendent of schools from 1947 to 1960, in whose name the school was dedicated about 57 years ago — donated about $8,000 to the school, according to its principal, Douglas Pasquerella.
She purchased 30 backpacks, with the school’s logo embroidered on them, to be placed in every classroom for staff and student use in the event of an emergency. She also donated a number of bibliotherapy books — covering topics such as divorce, separation and anxiety — and helped to start a “Snack Closet” in the school providing students with healthy snack choices throughout the day.
Her biggest contribution to the school is a $2,500 donation, made in the summer, to keep the Dr. Franklyn S. Barry and Mildred C. Barry Scholarship available for students. It was set to run out in about six years, but with the donation it can continue until 2073, according to Pasquerella.
The scholarship provides $50 to a student whose academic achievements promote positive learning and character-building at the school and show a devotion to learning, community involvement and ideals of equality, according to Pasquerella.
“It is all to her credit,” Pasquerella said about all the donations the school received.
To properly thank her for her contributions, the entire school wore purple — the school district’s color — to honor her. Margaret Barry attended the elementary school when she was younger — although in a different building at the time. And as she was seated in front of the group of students, a select group of students from each grade presented her with their own gift.
Kindergartners presented her with a foam hand –– with just the index finger raised, making a “number one” hand sign. The first-grade students gave her a calendar of bulldogs — the school’s mascot. From the second-graders Barry received a bowl of berries, to thank her for the “Snack Closet.” The third-graders presented her with a Franklyn S. Barry Elementary sweatshirt and the fourth-graders gave her a copy of her favorite book, “War and Peace.”
Another copy of the book is being placed in the school’s library, in a space dedicated to her with the bibliotherapy books she
Fifth-graders then gave Barry her own backpack, to thank her for the 30 backpacks she purchased for the school. And sixth-graders presented her with information on how her contribution to the scholarship will benefit the school.
Before the entire student body stood for a round of applause, Pasquerella had one more gift for Barry: a copy of her father’s picture and the program from the Oct. 25, 1959, building dedication ceremony to him.
“I did not expect anything like this,” Barry said. “This was wonderful.”
She said she has warm feelings for the school, as she went there when she was younger, and all the involvement her father had with it.
Because of that, and because of how well the students are taken care of there, she said she wanted to do something to tell the staff at the school how pleased she is with it.
And the school’s ceremony for her was more than she could have asked for in return, as once everyone left the gymnasium she turned to her colleagues and was silent for a beat. Then she said, “I am not often speechless. It is a bit overwhelming.”
Barry lives in Massachusetts, where she ran her own practice as a licensed independent clinical social worker, but is now retired.