The Pride of Dutch Hill is Turning 100; Centennial Celebration Planned
School 15, at 700 Gregory Avenue, opened to students in 1923 along with its sister school, School 13. Why would Clifton have skipped over #14 when building these new schools for their growing population? That’s actually a funny story. It was supposed to be School 14 but the stone carver, hired to engrave the school’s name, made a mistake. Rather than pay to replace the stone and delay the anticipated opening, the school district decided to leave it as School 15.
Known as “the Pride of Dutch Hill,” referencing the surrounding neighborhood, School 15 is home to a diverse group of students from PreK through fifth grade, including large Latino and Muslim populations. Many former students still live nearby and send their own children to their old school. Some of its teachers have been there long enough to see different generations of families come through its doors. The school is run by Principal Dr. Luginda Batten-Walker, who helps to create an atmosphere where students can show their PRIDE by being Positive, Respectful, (showing) Integrity, Dedicated, and Empathetic.
In joyful honor of their upcoming 100th birthday, School 15 is planning a big centennial celebration, and the whole community is invited to participate! Dana Howard, HSA president, has been at School 15 for many years. Her oldest child is now at CHS and her youngest two are preparing to move up to middle school next year. She had been working on a centennial event since before Covid-19 hit but the pandemic brought all plans to a halt. Now that everyone is back in school, plans were picked up again. Incoming HSA secretary Kathleen Grannis and sister Emily Thompson, the incoming HSA president, jumped in to make sure that they were able to pull it off, and with the help of the HSA, the three women have put together a full program of fun for children, adults, and alumni of the school.
The centennial celebration is planned for June 4th from 10 am-2 pm at School 15. There is a rain date of June 11th.
This exciting event will feature a DJ, face painters, balloon artists, temporary tattoos, sand art, lawn games, an inflatable obstacle course, a photo booth, and more. There will be lots for kids to do, so bring the whole family! There’s also entertainment for the adults - alumni, teachers, and parents. Inside the building, attendees can watch a video nostalgia tour of School 15 through the years and enjoy a slideshow of old photos. There will also be student artwork on display and a performance by the school chorus.
In talking about putting the video tour and the slideshow together Grannis said, “Now it’s so easy to find a record of anything but we’re going way back…way back before computers were even invented.” When searching in the school’s basement, Grannis found a guestbook from the 75th anniversary, when she was a student at that very school. The centennial celebration will also include a guestbook so that future students and families have a record of who was there in 2023. “It’s important to remember that sometimes those simple paper and pencil ways of keeping track of things hold a lot of charm, too,” she said.
There are even plans to bury a time capsule but first, they have to find the current one,
buried in September of 1987 in a “secret location.” Nobody seems to know where it is, despite some promising leads. If anyone knows where to find it, please contact School 15. The 1987 capsule was buried as part of the 200th anniversary of the Constitution.
The HSA is looking for more photos from anyone who attended, taught there, or who has children who went there. If you have any to share, please email email@example.com or visit this Facebook group.
They are also still looking for sponsorships - local businesses or individuals to help offset the costs of the celebration, which have so far come from HSA funds. Anyone interested in sponsoring some part of this event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The centennial will hopefully serve as an informal reunion for former students who are looking forward to meeting up with old classmates, friends, and teachers. Sheriff Berdnik, who attended School 15, is expected to attend and all of Clifton’s city and Board of Education officials have been invited.
Open to the whole community, this should be a great day of vendor shopping, food, music, and fun - there is definitely something for everyone. Please mark your calendars - June 4th from 10 am-2 pm - and come celebrate 100 years of School 15 PRIDE.