HUNDREDS of visitors took a trip down memory lane as a school opened its doors to celebrate half a century of learning.
Pupils and staff past and present enjoyed a golden moment as Darlington School of Mathematics and Science marked its 50th anniversary.
Built in 1964 as Branksome Community School to serve the Cockerton area, it became DSMS in 2011 when it converted into a self-governing academy.
Over the years it has seen thousands of students pass through its doors and is currently one of the fastest improving schools in the region.
Headteacher Calvin Kipling said: “The school has long been at the heart of the community and remains that way today. We are delighted so many people agreed to join our celebrations.”
Chairman of governors Dr David Hall added: “DSMS has been transformed over the past few years with £3m being spent improving the learning environment, including a £700,000 new sports hall, which is the largest in the town.
“Two years ago we had an intake of 60, last year this grew to 93 and next year it will be 140 showing that DSMS has become a school of choice.”
For retired art teacher Arthur Morgan the celebration brought the memories flooding back.
“When it was built it was unusual for its style,” he recalled. “Though when it opened it wasn’t finished because of the rain. The kids were great and there was a spirit of adventure because we were part of something new.”
He said it was great to see the students go on to achieve in life and at least three of his past pupils he knew were now millionaires.
“Shell Oil just named one of its massive tankers after its finance director – the Virginia Lloyd – well she came to this school,” he said.
Maria Rochester (nee Bancroft) was one of the first pupils to walk through the door in 1964.
“We were the first family to move into Malvern Crescent,” she said. “I remember school as being good fun but very strict. All my five children came here and it is great to see the school in such good shape.”
Visitors were treated to musical performances by staff and students, a cake cutting ceremony, refreshments, the official opening of the new sports hall by retiring assistant head teacher Dave Tucker and photographic displays of former pupils and teachers.