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Celebrating 125 years of education

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The Lawrence School District will celebrate its 125th anniversary with several events next school year that will include homecoming, an alumni prom on Jan. 26 and a concert the following day with the student orchestra and chorus.

To commemorate the quasquicentennial of a district that evolved from a one-room schoolhouse built in 1830 on Broadway and Carmen Avenue in what became Cedarhurst, to buildings in nearly community, officials are looking to collect memorabilia for permanent and temporary displays and create a Hall of Fame to honor successful alumni.

There are many successful and famous people who attended Lawrence schools, including Mickey Hart, the former drummer of the Grateful Dead, shoe mogul Steve Madden and dermatology expert Dr. Whitney Bowe, who could be honored with membership in the Hall of Fame.

Established in 1891, the Lawrence School District grew to include six schools at one time, and though public school enrollment has declined, the district helps to service more than 4,000 private school students, including many that attend yeshivas.

“In the superintendent’s office at the middle school there was the signed document that created the district,” said Lawrence Superintendent Gary Schall in explaining what prompted this 125th anniversary celebration. Now, due to the renovations completed last school year, the superintendent’s office is in the high school in Cedarhurst, the fourth in the district’s history. That building was built in 1960.

Schall, along with Peninsula Public Library (PPL) Director Carolynn Matulewicz and social studies teacher Frank Zangari, both Lawrence High graduates, and parent Pamela Makaea, are planning the celebration. About a dozen Lawrence High students will also be involved as well as many community members.

Celebration information and collected memorabilia, along with videos made by alumni can be accessed on the repurposed LPSforum.org website that was used to oppose the charter school application that failed last year.

“We are developing the website and are looking for temporary or permanent donations to the exhibit, including family photos and extended family,” Makaea said. The district is planning to display items to decorate the new high school offices and create a digitized mini-exhibit that would be displayed in all the schools.

Running time for the videos could be from five to 10 minutes, Zangari said, but will be edited. “We are asking eight to 10 questions of everyone the information regarding their favorite experience to what they did for lunch,” he said. Other questions include favorite teachers, what clubs students took part in or what sports they played. Zangari said that if some people want, the district would connect with them through Skype and video record their remembrances in that manner.

The theme of next school year’s homecoming will celebrate the district through the decades and the oldest Lawrencian. Matulewicz said that the library has many of the high school yearbooks, but as of press time the 1934, ’39, ’78, ’81, ’88 and ’89 books are missing from PPL’s collection.

Information about the anniversary celebration will also be on the Lawrence school Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Lawrence-High-School. Emails can be sent to lawrence125anniversary@lawrence.k12.ny.us. Before sending any memorabilia, submit information about the items or items and photographs by email. Donations to support the events are being accepted as well.