The closing of a school year inevitably brings about change, and while that is a means of growth and often a good thing, it can also bring about sad circumstances that we do not look forward to.

This spring included one of those moments at Page Hilltop Elementary School in Ayer, where our community had to say goodbye to Mary Palmer, who is retiring as the physical education teacher for an entire generation of children.

While there are those who would dismiss a gym teacher's contribution to a child's overall educational needs, every child or parent who interacted with Mrs. Palmer knows that is far from the case. As a specialty teacher, she would make a unique connection with every student each year they were enrolled at Page-Hilltop. She took advantage of this opportunity to send a positive message to thousands of children during her tenure that most will retain throughout their lifetimes.

This was exemplified during her final years of teaching, when she was forced to deal with a variety of physical injuries. She was not only able to overcome them and continue teaching in her usual nurturing and professional manner, she also showed students by example one of her primary messages: If you never give up and keep on trying, you can accomplish anything.

While we will greatly miss Mrs. Palmer (and, of course, Mrs. Matthews, the school's longtime health teacher, who is also retiring), Page Hilltop Principal Fred Deppe has assured that those who have been hired to replace them are highly qualified and we should welcome them as the new stewards of our children's health and a physical education needs.

But for now, we should take a moment to offer our gratitude to these two remarkable women for their contributions over the years. Our children are better people due to your resourceful and intuitive style of education.

Thank you, Mrs. Palmer and Mrs. Matthews, and best wishes in your retirement!

JEFF THOMAS

Ayer