Once Upon a Staircase

Once upon a time, at this special school called SAR, in order for the students to get from one place to the next they had to climb a bunch of steps (lots of them, in fact!) from the bottom of a hill to the top of it, and back down again - all day, every day! The stairs at SAR are as iconic as our open building and the memories and tales shared with us by our community are heartfelt and touching moments in time.

Over the years, our faculty and staff have heard various tales from current students and fond memories from SAR alumni about the stairs of our famed school building. Whether it’s one’s memory walking up-and-down the stairs by foot or sliding down on one’s tush, or having images of the principal making a school-wide announcement from the balcony, “the steps” at SAR represent the heartbeat of the school where the rhythm and buzz of learning are best heard.

Aside from sliding down the banisters (of course!), my favorite memories of the stairs are from Friday dismissals, when all grades would converge in a mayhem of kids and backpacks. I also hold onto the image of the entire school on the steps, singing during Hallel on Yom Ha’aztmaut, all in white shirts and blue bottoms. I wish I could go back for that every year since I graduated.
— Naomi Cooper, AC '03, HS '07

As alumna Debby (Spier) Prince AC ‘78 recalled, “Among many very wonderful moments at SAR, this childhood memory is one that always sticks out in my mind the most: while in Sixth Grade, I had injured my knee and needed to be on crutches for a month. All I could think about were those steps--all of those steps! Every day maneuvering up-and-down those stairs with my backpack and crutches! My teachers and friends could not have been kinder and more helpful getting me through that time and now, when I visit the school, I always picture my smaller self and envision those STEPS!

The stairs were also a place for communal gatherings. Just last year, Naftali Bennett, Education Minister of Israel, on his trip to the States came to SAR and addressed the students.

Story continues below…

The iconic rolling stairs of SAR Academy are probably most often remembered as a sight of organized chaos - a boisterous game of chutes and ladders played out daily in real life as students navigate from classroom to classroom with fearless efficiency and speed.
— Laurence Hasson AC '94, Academy Parent

Hasson goes on to say, “My fondest memory of the SAR stairs, however, is from Purim when the stairs are uncharacteristically calm and peaceful. Students and teachers alike would stand on those stairs in their respective tiered grades (relatively) silent, motionless, and with heads turned upwards in attention towards the principal's office from where the eighth grade would recite Megilat Esther. It was a rite of passage to stand atop those stairs and to contribute to SAR's communal reading of the Megilah. Of course, you were one of the lucky ones if you had a "Haman" in your designated portion because you got to trigger a deafening school-wide eruption of sound. I believe that contrast of sound and silence on Purim is representative of some of the best virtues of our beautiful community. We stand together with core values and support one another - and we do so loudly when necessary - but we likewise appreciate that each member of the SAR community has an individual voice, and, in order to afford each voice the respect it deserves, sometimes we must stand together in silence just to listen.”

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As a transfer to SAR in fifth grade, I had missed out on crucial years of mastering stair-sliding. But after a years worth of practice, I felt I was finally ready to join in on the fun. One day in sixth grade, a bunch of us decided to have a competition of who could slide down- what was then the lower sixth grade bannister- the fastest. After a few rounds of the game, one guy in my class sled down so fast that he accidentally kicked a huge hole in the wall. Of course, a teacher then came and banned our class from stair sliding for the rest of the year. But it took them a few weeks to cover the hole – reminding everyone of our fun for some time longer.
— Lizzy Brenner, AC '08, HS '12

Please share your “Once Upon a Staircase” story with us!