Bucks County Herald

Oldest and the smallest New Jersey school closing

Ceremony is planned this weekend in Stockton

JOHN SIEVERS

As Stockton Borough Elementary School moves through its final days, school officials will mark the occasion and celebrate its 185-year history this Saturday, June 9.

Postcard invitations were to be sent to all Stockton residents, but Karen Edwards of the Stockton Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) said due to a mishap, not every borough resident was mailed an invitation.

The Farewell Celebration Committee reviewed and finalized the event plans during its last meeting, according to Edwards.

Some of those plans include an event program, a commemorative banner, which guests will be asked to sign, a photo slide show, commemorative t-shirts and the opening of a time capsule.

Edwards said the items in the time capsule, which was buried about 10 years ago, will be examined, and new items will be added, including the event program, invitation and final school yearbook.

“We initially planned on fitting the signed banner in the time capsule but due to the size and material it most likely won’t fit,” Edwards said. If it doesn’t, the signed event banner will be displayed in the school along with framed pictures of the school from years past.

The celebration will begin at 11 a.m. with refreshments, and guest speakers from the school’s past and present will share memories, according to school principal Geoff Hewitt.

“Guests may also tour classrooms in the school to view student projects, a ‘through-the-years’ slide show and historical displays honoring the school’s rich history,” Edwards said.

“I realize we will also be saying goodbye to the end of an era,” Edwards said. But she remains hopeful and positive for the future and grateful for the past. “We got to be a part of it all.”

The ultimate fate of the building is currently unknown, but Hewitt said it remains a district facility and it will continue to be used by school district officials on a daily basis.

Edwards said parents, students and faculty have celebrated events throughout the year, such as walk-to-school days, student spirit days and Star Wars day. There have also been Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) sponsored field trips, which have been savored.

Unique this year have been alumni guest speakers who shared their experiences at the school.

According to Edwards, one of those was Bill Allen, a 1943 graduate who shared his memories about the school and what life was like in Stockton 75 years ago.

Edwards said the year has been bittersweet for her personally as PTO president, as she was also a member of the Farewell Celebration Committee.

“I was involved with plans for yearlong events as well as our final farewell celebration,” Edwards said.

Back in September, the final page on the school calendar seemed a fair distance away but time reduced that distance quickly.

The closing has personal meaning for Edwards as her youngest son will be one of the last nine Stockton sixth-graders to be promoted and move on to middle school, having to take a bus.

“I, like so many parents before me, have been involved with Stockton school for so many years,” Edwards said.

Community grass roots efforts tried to save the school, and a special subcommittee formed several years ago to try to boost enrollment, but the South Hunterdon Regional School District’s Board of Education voted to close the school after the 2017-2018 school year.

The school had just three fifth-graders, Hewitt said, and two of them were leaving the district after this year.

The transition “has gone very smoothly,” said Hewitt, who is also the South Hunterdon Regional School District’s director of curriculum.

The last day of classes is June 19 while the sixh grade promotion ceremony will occur June 12, according to Hewitt.

“The celebration event would not be possible without the assistance of so many, and most especially the Stockton Volunteer Firehouse,” Edwards said.




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