OLD BRIDGE – A former Carl Sandburg Middle School vice principal and retired district educator walked into the school’s gymnasium and recently reflected on his career.
Michael DeSimone, who was employed by the Old Bridge Public School District for 33 years, said he coached girls’ basketball in the 1980s at Sandburg and was a vice principal at the school in the 1990s.
“When we started, we experienced growing pains,” DeSimone said in a statement prepared by the school district. “This is a great school and it’s on the right course for success. I started [as a social studies teacher] in 1969 when the school was first [slated to] open. It’s great to see the school growing and flourishing and being successful over the past 50 years.”
Because the building was not completed in September 1969, students started in the new building in January of 1970 with the first class graduating in June 1970.
Today, Sandburg is housed at the former Madison Central High School and later known as Old Bridge High School West Campus.
DeSimone was one of the dozens of Carl Sandburg Middle School alumni, representing athletes and retired teachers, coaches, and administrators, who attended a 50th anniversary event, celebrating the school’s sports history, according to the statement.
Among the men and women, who were honored at half-time, are: DeSimone; Kevin Egan, who coached boys’ soccer; Fred Hansson, retired coach; Rich Maczka, retired coach; and athletes Christine Cotugno, Jayne Devine, Pat Horsley, Mike Smith, Jamie Sporer and Katelyn Tivald, who are all employed in the district.
“These milestones are not only important to those who have gone through the building,” Schools Superintendent David Cittadino said in the statement, “but it is a great lesson for current students. The future is bright working in the classrooms, on the fields or on the courts. They are part of the history of tomorrow.”
During the Jan. 29 celebration, Sandburg was the host to a basketball doubleheader against Jonas Salk Middle School, featuring the two girls’ teams and then the two boys’ teams. During halftime of the first game, a musical selection was presented by the students in this year’s Sandburg play, “High School Musical” and the school’s cheerleaders performed at the halftime of the second game. At the end of the first game, the Sandburg alumni athletes were recognized at center court.
“I am proud to celebrate 50 years of excellence at Carl Sandburg Middle School,” Principal Martha Simon said in statement. “Each event, like the one we held today, is intended to recognize the outstanding commitment and dedication of students and staff, both past and present.”
This event marked the second of three set to celebrate the school’s anniversary. The kickoff took place at the beginning of the school year with a presentation to the student body and an opportunity to build student community; the final event will take place in the spring when a time capsule, including a video from the first presentation, a school newspaper, a yearbook and a 50th anniversary t-shirt, will be buried inside a pedestal created by a former student.