Anniversary celebration introduces Cranbury School’s first-ever school song “O Cranbury We Sing.”
Steeped in history the Cranbury School had students, staff and residents both past and present ready to celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary.
Former staff members and students and current shared their memories of time spent through the years at the school, changes that have been made, and funny stories they shared. It was a time for reconnection with former classmates and colleagues at the anniversary community celebration on April 30.
“The community’s engagement is the hallmark of what Cranbury is all about. There is so much love for the Cranbury School and that is what this celebration is about,” said Jennifer Diszler, principal and chief school administrator at The Cranbury School.
“Our staff and kids were instrumental through the week and community celebration.”
Planned since the beginning of the 2022-’23 school year, the 125th anniversary celebrations included student involved activities in the school through the week leading up to the weekend that included an alumni and community dance, and ended with the community celebration.
“This is a historical day for us, and we are looking forward to the construction that has been planned for the next couple years and what that will bring for the next 125 years,” said Board of Education President Pramod Chivate.
He added, “The school is the heart of the town. I hope people take from the celebration this sense of belonging, what the school means to this community, and cherish and preserve the school for the next 125 years.”
During the week of April 29, the student council helped to run a spirit week, where the school travelled through the decades starting in the 2000s and going backwards to the 1900s.
“We had our students do research on the decades,” Assistant Principal Jennifer Casazza said. “Walking around the school people are able to notice different time periods. Students did research on different aspects such as music, economy, and government.”
Students also decorated shirts, which they wore on April 28, created a logo, and the school’s Kindness Club ran 125 acts of kindness, where students could earn a kindness card to win a prize.
“I think the students loved getting the acts of kindness, doing spirit week and dressing up through the different time periods,” Casazza added. “Walking around seeing all the projects through the week, you could really tell the students learned a lot about history in the last 125 years.”
The Community Day celebration involved student led tours around the school; a Hall of Memories displaying comments and memories of former students, staff and parents along a wall at the school main entrance; a 125th anniversary museum of the school’s history in the library; a panel discussion about Cranbury School memories featuring alumni; and Carnival games and a bouncy house.
Emily Toplin, Class of 2010, wrote on the Hall of Memories that Cranbury School set her up with the necessary skills and experiences to have a successful career and meaningful relationship.
“It was where I first recognized how strong I am at math, which later translated to a career in finance. It is where my teachers challenged me to explore new subjects,” she wrote. “I was always encouraged to try new things, like learning to play the clarinet, which I realized was not my strong suit, but hey I tried.”
At a panel discussion taking a trip down memory lane, former Cranbury School teacher Linda Penney noted that there is something special about the school.
“Throughout my career, many teachers came and stayed. There was not much turnover, because the children were fabulous, and the parents and community were just very special,” she said.
Penney shared a special memory she will never forget of Carol Malouf, former school principal and administrator.
“On her last day at the Cranbury School, Carol Malouf went out to wave goodbye to the buses,” Penney recalled. “She was wearing the quilt Kay Davidson had made for her and waving goodbye with tears rolling down her face. To me that event signified how connected the teachers are and were to the Cranbury School.”
The closing of the community celebration established a new tradition for the Cranbury School – a school song. Diszler’s idea for a school song sparked in the fall and would be created by Kristin Schenk, Josh Wilson, and Gary Charwin.
“Cranbury of all places does not have an alma mater song. It is an original score and is called ‘O Cranbury We Sing’,” she said. “The song will be sung at the end of all of our major events moving forward. My goal is that each class as they graduate, they are going to know that song and when they come back, they can be a part of it again.”
Cranbury students first performed the school song at the closing for students, staff, alumni and parents.
The Cranbury School’s history first began in 1896 with the original school building completed a year later as doors to the school officially opened in 1897.
At the time of the opening, the school had enrolled 159 students. The brick building had consolidated the north and south Cranbury Schools.
According to Cranbury local historian Audrey Smith, during the school’s first two years the building had four rooms that contained primary, grammar, intermediate and high school departments.
A south wing was added in 1906 adding two rooms, which was followed by a north wing addition in 1922 to accommodate student enrollment and township growth.
Additions have continued for the school from 1949 through present day. The additions accommodated a cafeteria; kindergarten, first and second grades; the construction of a gymnasium; the current cafeteria; a library; modern education and continued growth in enrollment; the existing 2003 gymnasium addition and the new auxiliary gym.
However, the original brick building would no longer hold classes after the 1967 addition to the school and is now used as Town Hall for township administration offices, government meetings, and senior center.
After the 1996-’97 school year, enrollment was 435 students. Currently the Cranbury School enrolls 483 students.