Caesar Rodney schools set special events for the district’s 100th year

 

CR High School principal Dr. Sherry Kijowski stands next to a display cabinet full of Rider mementos from the past 100 years in her school lobby.  (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

CR High School principal Dr. Sherry Kijowski stands next to a display cabinet full of Rider mementos from the past 100 years in her school lobby. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

CAMDEN –– Caesar Rodney School District reached an epic milestone with the start of the 2015-16 school year: It’s been providing education for a full century.

The district began as State Consolidated District No. 1 on July 1, 1915. With $30,000 from the state and a referendum a 12-room school building was built for grades one through 12.

Every year since, the district, soon renamed for the local Revolutionary War hero and Delaware statesman Caesar Rodney, has seen students new and old coming for class.

In 1919, CR was combined with six other schools in the area to become one of 13 large districts in the state. The district now serves more than 7,000 students in a 140 square mile area.

In celebration of its 100 years in existence, a centennial committee made up of alumni, business leaders, volunteers and CR staff have been organizing a memorable school year of celebration.

Centerpiece of the celebration is a display of memorabilia spanning nearly 90 years of district history.

The CR Class of 1928 buried a time capsule in a copper box that was unearthed in 1967 during construction of Fifer Middle School.  (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

The CR Class of 1928 buried a time capsule in a copper box that was unearthed in 1967 during construction of Fifer Middle School. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

CR High School’s principal, Dr. Sherry Kijowski, is a third-generation Rider. She has played a pivotal role in organizing the centennial and collecting memorabilia.

“We put out a call in last year’s graduation program and got the display set up in August,” she said. “It was up by the time faculty came back and since, it’s been a point of interest for both staff and students.”

The collection currently occupies a large display case in the lobby of Caesar Rodney High School that can’t be missed by anybody entering the school.

The earliest piece is a time capsule buried in 1928. It was originally dug up when the old high school in Camden-Wyoming was torn down in the early 1960s, but rediscovered when CR’s Community Relations Specialist Ron Gough found it tucked away in a lock box in the district office.

Inside the time capsule are a blue and gold pennant and photos of the class that buried it. None are still alive. The oldest known CR alumni are graduates of the class of 1937. All three are 96 years old.

“We actually found them because Charlotte Lister donated some of her mother Jean’s CR memorabilia and mentioned that some of her mother’s classmates were still around,” Mr. Gough said.

The three have been invited to serve as grand marshals for the Oct. 16 homecoming parade.

Also on display are some of the earliest school newspapers, “The Rider,” with the earliest edition dating back to the early 1960s.

Teachers have also pitched into the collection, lending band uniforms, letterman jackets and 20 years worth of homecoming pins.

“It’s a neat trip down memory lane,” Dr. Kijowski said of talking to alumni that have come forward to donate. “Even though there’s years and years separating us, there’s some things that never change, like the rivalry with Dover High, especially in football, that’s always been a huge deal.”

And athletics are something the centennial committee hasn’t overlooked as part of the celebration.

Jerseys of CR’s most successful student athletes ranging from All-American collegiate athletes to NBA players and even Super Bowl Champions are on display in one of the high school’s hallways.

Other athletic accolades on display date back to 1932 with a trophy awarded to the girls’ basketball team for their state championship win. A football goal marker from 1975, used in the state championship game the CR team won is also on view.

“I think no matter how successful or far away these people go, Caesar Rodney will always be a place that feels like home for them,” Dr. Kijowski said.

One of the more interesting pieces, for teachers at least, is a “prospective teachers’ guide” from the early 1960s. The guide is full of information on the area ranging from the best places to live, dine, exercise, shop and worship. The most noticeable aspect is that hardly any of the businesses listed are still around half a century after the guide’s printing.

The culmination of the centennial celebration is slated for the third weekend of October, the 16th and 17th, with Caesar Rodney’s Homecoming parade and football game and Rider Pride Day.

Rider Pride Day, on Oct. 17, is expected to draw thousands to the high school and aside from live music, raffles, games and food, a live auction is also on the schedule to raise some funds for the school district.

Just a few of the items up for auction are football helmets signed by CR alum and current New England Patriot Duron Harmon and Caesar Rodney license plates CR1, CR2 and CR 3.

The license plates are a limited edition centennial plate issued by the DMV. Buyers may choose their own number at the DMV but CR1, CR2 and CR3 are only available through the auction.

The cost of a CR plate is $25; $10 covers the fee owed to the DMV for a specialty plate and the other $15 goes toward the Centennial Gala scheduled for May 14, 2016.

The Gala is still in the planning phases but will be held at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. An announcement will be made when tickets go on sale.

Other items available for purchase throughout the year are $10 limited edition lapel pins and a $10 centennial t-shirt. More information on buying pins or t-shirts is available at crk12.org/crhs.

If you have CR memorabilia you’d like to donate or loan to the district to be displayed, or have any questions about the centennial celebration, contact Mr. Gough at 697-2173 or ronald.gough@cr.k12.de.us.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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