Local Centenarian Helps SMA Celebrate 100th Day Of School

To commemorate the 100th day of school on Jan. 30, students and teachers in the San Marcos Academy Lower School came dressed as 100-year-olds, wearing beards, bathrobes, bow ties, grey hair, and curlers and toting their miniature canes and walkers.

They also had a chance to hear from a gentleman who actually earned the title of centenarian last year and turned 101 years old in January. San Marcos resident Chester “Leroy” Moddrell answered questions and posed for photos with the students as part of their celebration. This was the second year in a row that Moddrell has shared with the students on their 100th day event.

Winners of the Best Dressed contest on the 100th Day of School at San Marcos Academy gather with Associate Academic Dean Steven McCray. The group includes Ryker Lavender, Major Howard, Gino Pastrano, R.J. Nunez, River Malinovsky, Sara Lemley, Olivia Mailloux, Micah Martinez, Emma Patton, Mya Pizana, Georgia Morris, (back row) Blain Montgomery, Jordan Ruiz, Cate Carothers, Colt Owen, Tarah Ervin, Sienna Rodriguez, Koltyn Haverda, Karissa Ybarra and Lyla Rains. | Photo by Marcus McDonald

A resident at Regent Care Center in San Marcos, Moddrell told the kindergarten through fifth graders what it was like to be 101, telling them he never expected to live this long. He explained that it can be lonely at the top, as he has outlived his wife and most of the friends he grew up with.

A veteran of World War II, Moddrell spent more than four decades in the Air Force and lived in many different parts of the world. He proudly wore his World War II veteran cap for his visit to SMA, and the Academy’s JROTC Color Guard posted colors at the event in honor of Moddrell’s service.

Moddrell told students his first job was harvesting crops when he was 12 years old. A full day of work back then paid only 50 cents, he recalled.

Asked about his best childhood memory, Moddrell said he had a buggy when he was young that he hitched up to a mule for rides around the farm.

What does a 101-year-old like to eat? Mashed potatoes with gravy is his favorite meal, Moddrell said, and he enjoys drinking a root beer whenever he can. “I also eat a lot of chocolate and I like peppermints,” he said with a smile.

Moddrell’s visit to the Academy brought an end to the Lower School’s 100th-day celebration, during which the 104 students and their teachers paraded through the hallways of the Middle and Upper School building as well as the administrative wing to show off their creative costumes.

Lower School teachers Diana Lucas (left) and Chris Goode (right) welcomed Mr. Leroy Moddrell and his daughter, Debbie Ruff, at the SMA 100th Day of School celebration Jan. 30. | Photo by  Marcus McDonald

Prizes were given out to the students who best captured the spirit of the day in their attire. The recipients were Cate Carothers, Farah Ervin, Koltyn Haverda, Major Howard, Ginny Bell Insley, Ryker Lavender, Sara Lemley, Olivia Mailloux, River Malinovsky, Micah Martinez, Blain Montgomery, Georgia Morris, R.J. Nunez, Colt Owen, Emma Patton, Gino Pastrano, Mya Pizana, Lyla Rains, Cienna Rodriguez, Jordan Ruiz, and Karissa Ybarra.


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