Jamesburg to mark old high school site 25 years after it was closed, alumni are still singing its praises

BY TARA PETERSEN
Staff Writer

Jamesburg to mark old high school site
25 years after it was closed, alumni are still singing its praises
BY TARA PETERSEN
Staff Writer


Jamesburg High SchoolJamesburg High School

JAMESBURG — Jamesburg High School closed 25 years ago, but its alumni are working hard to preserve its memory.

In fact, the graduates are bringing true the alma mater pledge they sang years ago: "Oh Jamesburg High, our alma mater, our voices now to thee we raise. Our hearts are true to thee forever, our lips will ever sing thy praise."

The Jamesburg High School Alumni Association is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the school’s closing this Sunday at the Forsgate Commons on Forsgate Drive, the last site of the former school.

According to event organizer and alumni member Ronald Becker, the ceremony will conclude with the unveiling of a bronze plaque dedicated to the thousands of students, faculty, administrators and support members who were a part of the high school’s history.

"We’re doing all these things to keep the memories alive," Becker said.

The school first opened in 1906 as the first high school in southern Middlesex County, and drew students from surrounding communities including Monroe, Spotswood, Cranbury, Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Helmetta, Englishtown, Madison and Manalapan.

It was a single classroom at that time. The school moved across the street in 1912, then to its final location on Forsgate Drive in 1932. The building is now home to business offices.

Becker said the 17-classroom building was state-of-the-art at the time.

According to the borough’s Web site, www.jamesburg.org/highschoolhistory, the building had science laboratories, an industrial arts shop, a typing room, an office practice classroom with "modern business machines," a gymnasium, and an auditorium with seating for 464 people.

There also was a playing field for baseball, soccer and track at the rear of the building.

It was designed by the architectural firm John Noble Pierson and Son, Perth Amboy, and built for $165,000.

The school graduated more than 4,100 students over the years, Becker said, graduating its final class in 1979.

They were the Indians, with colors of mulberry and gold.

Becker said the alumni association was recently re-formed in 2000 after the first one proved unsuccessful.

"We have held two all-class reunions in 2002 and 2003 that drew 300 people each," Becker said.

He said that the association publishes a quarterly newsletter and a monthly e-mail newsletter. They also have been working to establish a database with all the names and addresses of former students.

"We have about 99 percent of the names," Becker said, noting that his ever-growing list of addresses for them has reached 1,811.

Becker also said memorabilia from the school is at the James Buckelew Mansion

"All that remains of Jamesburg High School exists in one room of the Buckelew Mansion," he said.

The association has raised more than $6,000 toward purchasing display cabinets and fixing up the room, he said.

The association is already preparing for the centennial celebration that will kick off on April 30 next year, though the school officially first opened in 1906.

"It will be a two-year celebration," Becker said.

Becker said that the group also plans to award scholarships in 2007 to two high school students with ties to a Jamesburg High School alumnus.

Becker called the school closing a "sad time in our history" and said he was not sure how many people would attend the ceremony.

"I know we have people coming from Florida and Massachusetts," he said.

He said that those present would sing the alma mater as the plaque is unveiled.