I first stepped into the halls of John Pettibone School on a fall morning in 1957. I was entering the third grade.

The school seemed huge and sprawling after I’d spent two years at Main Street School, now known as the Richmond Citizen Center, where I went for first and second grades.

Pettibone was relatively new at the time. The property it sat on had only been purchased by the town five years before from George D. Pratt Jr.

As a young girl, I had no knowledge about such things. I just knew the building was beautiful and your footsteps echoed as you walked down the corridor.

Until the fourth grade, I had an imaginary friend. She was an Indian princess and I would talk to her when I was alone in the girls’ bathroom.

We’d discuss the kids in my classroom and my teacher. One day, I came out of the stall and there were two other girls in the room. Mortified, I was sure they’d heard me talking to the princess.

Our conversations came to a swift end.

By fifth grade, I was an old hand when it came to attending Pettibone.

My best friend was Linda Shook. We would pretend to ride horses while out on the playground, riding them right in through the school doors. We’d laugh and giggle, full of youthful exuberance.

I remained at Pettibone through the eighth grade. By then one of the older students, I, along with the rest of my class, was told we were role models for the younger children. This was a role I took seriously.

I still remember walking across the school stage in the combination gym/auditorium on graduation day in 1963. I wore a beige dress with blue embroidered flowers.

Again, I heard my steps echo as I crossed the stage. After the ceremony, my father told me how proud he was of the way I carried myself as I walked to receive my diploma. I glowed.

In the fall, I was to be among the first classes to attend the new high school in Sunny Valley.

But for that day in the early summer, I was a Pettibone graduate.

As I learned Pettibone would close this month, I thought back to my years there.

As I heard parents’ concerns about younger students being moved to schools with older students, I thought back to those years at Pettibone, at how we all existed together there, never giving it a thought.

Simpler days? Perhaps.

A time I will cherish in my memories? Definitely.

Susan Tuz is a reporter for The Greater New Milford Spectrum; stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322.