Celebrating 100 years of School 15 Pride!
This exciting event featured a DJ, face painters, balloon artists, temporary tattoos, sand art, lawn games, an inflatable obstacle course, and more set up outside to take advantage of the beautiful weather. The outside lot also had lots of local vendors, including Kerri Bamond Chomsky of Sugamama, who was there making fresh churros with dipping sauces. The gymnasium was set up with a table of memorabilia for the alumni, including a wall of newspaper articles about the school through the ages. There was a video nostalgia tour of School 15 through the years with a wonderful slideshow of old photos. There was also student artwork on display and a performance by the school chorus.
Dana Howard, HSA president,had been working on a centennial event since before Covid-19 hit but the pandemic brought all plans to a halt. Incoming HSA secretary Kathleen Grannis and sister Emily Thompson, the incoming HSA president, joined her 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. Ferdous Diba Salam and Carol Camacho welcomed the attendees to the event, inviting people to sign the memory book.
The Key Club did a great job managing the games and keeping all the participants safe and having fun!
John Neuteboom, a School 15 alumnus talked to us about the importance of keeping Clifton's history alive. He administers a Facebook group called School 15 Clifton, NJ Alumni - A Living History, where School 15 alumni can reach out and share reminiscences and events to keep history alive for future generations. Alumni like Diane Donkersloot Drake, who was a first grader in 1953 before student teaching at School 15 in 1969 and then going on to be a teacher there from 1976 to 1981, showed us some of the memorabilia that the group had collected. Her father, John A. Donkersloot, had been a student in the first class at School 15 in 1923. She shared her autograph book and class photos and told us about having 38 students per class, at a time when Clifton was busy building schools to accommodate the "Baby Boomers."
Other alumni included Sheriff Berdnick who attended with the Passaic County Sheriff's Department. He won the 50-50 lottery and donated the money back to School 15 in a gesture of goodwill. The Passaic County Sheriff's Department donated ice cream sandwiches to the kids to make the warm day a little sweeter! Officer Katz brought Koen, the drug-sniffing Malinois, to the event and so many of the children were fascinated by the beautiful working dog.
Paul Meola and Lynn Meola Gojanovich came up from Pennsylvania for the festivities. The twins were in the first grade at School 15 in 1960, and their father had been a student there in 1932. They shared their happy memories of the school with the other alumni, for whom the celebration was a joyful reunion.
The Clifton School Board was in attendance with Commissioners Richie Mejia, Tony Santiago, Alan Paris, School Board President Jim Smith, and Mark Brunciak, who brought his family for fun in the sun and some face painting! Mayor Ray Grabowski stopped by to meet the attendees and join the celebration.
The event was well attended by current School 15 students, staff, and families with the children enjoying the event, pizza, treats, and so much more, along with becoming aware of their place in the storied history of School 15, the Pride of Dutch Hill.