Among the honored guests included Assemblyman and Mayor Albio Sires, Class of '66, Board of Education President Richard Tedesco, Class of '48, and Principal of Early Childhood School Claire Warnock, Class of '57. However, the most impressive of all the graduates and former faculty to come that day was Joseph Cuviello, who come October will be celebrating his own 100th Birthday.
Cuviello was born when the school first opened in 1906, and later graduated from it. He also served as the supervisor of social studies at Memorial High School.
However, this celebration also marked the end of an era for West New York School No. 4, which will be closing its doors at the end of the following school year. The students will move into a new facility just a few blocks away.
Steady preparation for the event began about three months ago by the "Ram-Tennial Committee," which was made up of faculty, staff and students.
"We had two goals," said Anna Pica-Massa, committee chair. "One was to celebrate the actual 100th anniversary and honor the building itself, and two was to make sure each child was directly involved in birthday party."
In addition to the joint events of the day, each child received a personal invite to the party, where they got goodie bags and their own cupcakes with candles to blow out.
"They all sang happy birthday to No. 4 School and they all blew out all the candles," said Pica-Massa. "It really was a team effort. There were about 20 people on the committee and everyone made a contribution. It was a really fun celebration."
However, planning the anticipated event has been about five years running.
"I have been thinking about this since we celebrated 95 years," said Bernard Abbadessa, principal of No. 4 School.
The entire school was decorated with posters, pictures, and essays about 100 years of history. Throughout the week, students and staff sported the school colors of white and blue.
There were also arts and literary activities throughout the week, class scavenger hunts, and staff shadowing, which had the kids follow around their teacher or even their principal throughout the day.
All good things must come to an end
However, this celebration was bittersweet because the school will be closing at the end of next year.
"It's definitely bittersweet because this is a unique building, and we're going to miss having the park across the street," said Abbadessa. "But we are getting a new building on 63rd Street and we are very excited about that. We must always respect and cherish the best, but we can't live in it."
The city has not yet decided what to do with the old building once it is vacated.
100 years of excellence
The celebration began about 9:30 a.m. with introductory remarks by Bernard Abbadessa, principal of No. 4 School.
"We at School Four are committed to pursuing excellence in education," said Abbadessa. "We will endeavor to provide students with a quality education that includes a challenging academic curriculum, a nurturing environment and an extremely caring and talented staff as we enter the next 100 years."
Giving the welcoming address was Superintendent of Schools Anthony Yankovich, and introducing some of the schools past graduates was Claire Warnock.
"It is so important for our children to learn and understand our history," said Yankovich. "Everyone at the school has done a wonderful job of making this final year both a fun and an interesting learning experience for our students."
Following the acknowledgment of the graduates, third grader Eylin Perez presented a special gift to Cuveillo on behalf of No. 4 School.
"I felt all proud of myself and it was a really nice thing to do for Mr. Cuviello, and everyone was proud of me for doing my speech," soad Eylin. "I felt really good because it's hard to do a speech and you have to practice."
At the close of the ceremonies, Sires also presented No. 4 School with an Assembly Resolution commemorating school on its anniversary, and its academic achievements including their three consecutive year designations as a New Jersey Benchmark School for their outstanding scores in state testing.
Friday's ceremonies brought out between 700 to 800 people including neighbors and parents that decided to stop by. The streets were closed off along 66th Street to ensure the safety of the guests.
Following the speeches by fellow graduates and dignitaries, the students were ushered back to school for a day packed with fun and games, and giving the books a rest.
While the upperclassmen sixth through eighth graders got to enjoy "Dancing through the Decades" which included some of the chart-topping tunes throughout the 20th century, complete with treats and refreshments, the younger kids went across the street to the park and had their own 1900s era carnival.
"We ran it a like a field day and had games like the beanbag toss and a ring toss," said Abbadessa.
The school also dedicated a time capsule, which will be showcased in the new school instead of buried. Just a precautionary tactic considering that the town of West New York still has not found its own, after trying to uncover it for the 75th anniversary of the city.
"We're going to display in the library for all the students to see," said Picca-Massa. "Every child also made their own time capsule out of paper towels to take home."
All those invited also had the chance to enjoy a barbeque luncheon as well.