There was snow in the Sahara, the compact disc debuted, and the Pittsburgh Pirates won their last world series.
It was 1979 and a young woman named Michelle Peterson embarked on a long career educating the children of northern Warren County.
After serving under 14 principals, 12 she can still remember well, this June after 33 years at the same school, that career finally came to an end.
Peterson, who would later become Michelle Meadows, remembers being hired at Russell Elementary School by a man who remembered when she was a student there herself, Dr. Blair Logan.
"I went over for my interview and he said, 'Oh! I remember you.' He remembered which seat in which classroom," Meadows recalled. "That's the kind of person he was."
Meadows would spend five years teaching special education. She said her class consisted of 22 students who were with her for most of the day. According to Meadows, students ranged in age from kindergarten through grade six students and were in the class for everything from serious mental disabilities to behavior problems. She noted there were no class aides at the time.
From special education, she went on to teach the first grade in 1984. She remained there for 13 years.
"I think first grade is the most rewarding grade to teach and the most difficult," Meadows said. "That's the grade where they learn to read and they're so proud of themselves. That's what makes first grade special."
Meadows said she learned a few things herself during her time teaching first grade. According to her, at least one kindergarten student believes she became a dentist.
"Those years I became, I would say, an expert on pulling teeth," Meadows recalled. "I have been pulling teeth right up until I retired in June. Kids all come to me, no matter what grade level."
For the 15 years leading up to her retirement, Meadows said she has been teaching the fourth grade.
"Fourth grade is a year when I tell the kids, 'This year, you've already learned how to read. Now you're going to read to learn,'" Meadows said.
Meadows said what she recalls most clearly from her time teaching fourth grade is projects. Penguin related projects, medieval period projects, literature-based projects and, the project she recalled most fondly, a western expansion period project.
"The best project was the wild west," Meadows said. "I don't think those kids will ever forget that. Those kids are sophomores or juniors in college now."
According to Meadows, the project included a play, student biographies of period figures, dressing up in period clothing and lessons on simple machines used at the time. She added work on the project drew in the families of students and teachers as it ballooned ever larger.
"It was really something to watch the students keep up with their work and do the projects," Meadows said. "It got much bigger than I imagined."
Meadows recalled Alex Watkins erected a full size tepee, helped make dreamcatchers and taught native American dances. Meadows father, Edward Peterson, made a full size model of a horse out of wood and styrofoam and students helped paper mache then paint it. Peterson also built a model conestoga wagon and brought it in in pieces students helped assemble. Meadows said students also created a western town out of cardboard lining the walls.
"They would make western style buildings and name them after themselves," Meadows noted. "Jerrod Shields made the saloon. He put it right in front of my desk. So, when we moved the scenery, my desk was behind the saloon. Sometimes, if I was a little flustered, someone would put that in front of me. I'd tell them I was just having a sarsaparilla."
The project was part of a series of "art smart" cross-curricular projects.
"Some of them (the students) still have pieces of that project," Meadows noted. "You always hope with these kinds of projects, kids will remember these things. That's the whole point of it, so they can apply it."
Meadows said education wasn't all about the big events though.
"You don't have to do these big projects all the time and they don't have to be this big," Meadows said. "In my experience, students would rather read a novel as a class. They can learn the skills and still enjoy the literature."
Meadows noted she's thankful for the teachers, staff, parents and children she's worked with over the years and said of Russell, "There was no better place to teach in Warren County and I was there for 33 years. They had a very nice retirement party for me. My last group of students, along with a lot of adults in the building who kept this a secret from me, picked a place in the state they had chosen for a project and chose a place they want me to go for my retirement."
Meadows proudly displayed a scrapbook the students presented her with outlining the locations, including one student's choice of a dogsled race.
"It's just wonderful stuff in this book and I'm going to try to go if I get the chance," Meadows said. "I'm going to send a postcard from every place I make it to, to the student who picked it."
Meadows also outlined her proposal to all the adults who have been involved with Russell Elementary.
"I have heard that Russell might close and I would like to propose an idea to all who have been involved with the school. I think that in the year it closes, we should have a reunion with the adults, picnic style. we can play in the playground and play kickball," Meadows suggested. "I'll be really sad to see it no longer a school. We always say once you work at Russell you're family and they have been a part of my family for 33 years, and I hope they continue to be."
She also had a bit of advice.
"Keep a sense of humor," Meadows said.