SINCLAIRVILLE - A new chapter in education was opened in 1938, when a centralization district was adopted to incorporate towns and small school districts such as Cassadaga Valley. The State Education Department encouraged centralization due to changing enrollments in schools and to provide greater education possibilities to students. The change would be from one-room schools to a building housing many grade levels of students and offer subjects not possible in the smaller schools. Some schools were already busing high school students to other districts so that they would be getting a wider education.
In a major vote on Sept. 6 of that year, farm work stopped, businesses closed and there was very little happening in the area as voting took place. When the polls closed at 9 p.m. that day, the voting was in favor of centralization, and it was announced that a central school district had been established. The centralization would bring together four towns and 31 school districts to form the Cassadaga Valley School District. This all occurred nearly 75 years ago.
In the year 1989, a committee of dedicated people met and planned a 50th year celebration of the centralization of the Cassadaga Valley School District. The new committee is building on the wonderful foundation of work of these people, and adding the last 25 years.
Shown at one of the recent planning sessions for the Cassadaga Valley celebration are, standing: Susan Washington Sipos, Carl Perry, Marie Bulger Martin, Walter Waite, Heather Carlson Nocero, Susanna Strong Lawson, Phil Bens and Alyssa Merrill. Seated are Mary Bernard Holton, Dr. DiDomenico-Sorrento, Viola Schroeder Dorman and Danyal Maloy Dahl.
A committee was created by former Cassadaga Valley graduate and retired teacher Sally Weatherford Lawson to remember this special time in the history of the valley. With a group of people working together, plans are being formulated for a celebration of events to occur on the days of Oct. 11, 12, and 13, 2013.
"When something this great happens," Lawson said, "we need to remember the event."
No specific date is being remembered for this celebration; it is a time to celebrate a period of 75 years of working together in the Cassadaga Valley area. Some of the events include a historical display in one of the rooms, a dance, a memory booklet, a band concert and to remember those people who served in the military to protect the nation's freedom.
Historian and graduate of Cassadaga Valley Walter Waite gave a detailed listing of dates, from the 1938 vote to placing the large sign with his uncle. P. Walter Fredrickson, Elmer Nutt and Clarence Ames, to the placement of the cornerstone, the first graduating class, the first class in the fall and the first yearbook.
When Waite began to speak, he said, "I hope all have a sharpened pencil to take notes."
With that, Mary Bernard Holton, also a Cassadaga graduate, raised her left hand holding a bundle of sharpened pencils.
The committee is composed of many Cassadaga Valley School district graduates, school personnel and interest community members. Participating with chairman Lawson are school graduates Carl Perry, who is also a Board of Education member; Peggy Frick Heath, Diane Shaw, Karole Bernard Lawson, Darla Okerlund Frost-Kianos, Vicki Swanson Martin, Marcy Powers Miller, Stephanie Fairbanks Crabtree, Susan Washington Sipos, Heather Carlson Nocero, Marie Bulger Martin, Susanna Strong Lawson, Mary Bernard Holton, Viola Schroeder Dorman, Danyal Maloy Dahl, Phil Bens and Waite. Superintendent Scott Smith, High School Principal Dr. DiDomenico-Sorrento, and school personnel Deb Ulrich are also on the committee. Alyssa Merrill, a graduate for the year 2014, also participates. Village of Cassadaga Historian John Sipos is also a member of this planning committee.
The committee is long from finalizing details for the 75th year celebration, which meets monthly on the first Thursday at the school at 7 p.m. Interested members are always welcome.