Harding will kick off centennial celebration with community event

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KENILWORTH, NJ — Harding Elementary School is going old school to mark its 100th year.

Community members are invited to pack a picnic and play low-tech games when they come out to the “Harding 100 and Up Celebration” on Wednesday, Aug. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. The rain date is Thursday, Sept. 1.

All residents are welcome to join in the fun and learn about Harding’s past.

Kenilworth historian Walter Boright will speak about the history of Harding Elementary School, which began construction in 1923 and was dedicated the following year.

Harding opened as a nine-room, K-8 school to relieve crowding at the former McKinley School. The auditorium stage doubled as the gym and had lockers and showers. Harding recently installed a new stage with funds from the operating budget, but the auditorium has never had a complete renovation.

The district is asking the community to consider a bond referendum on Thursday, Oct. 6, that would fund auditorium upgrades, among other projects. With voter approval, the district could receive state aid toward the costs of improvements, such as replacing the original chairs in the 100-year-old auditorium, as well as the floor and ceiling.

Concept photos of a new auditorium and other district improvements will be displayed alongside historical Harding photos outside the school building.

The “Harding 100 and Up Celebration” also will include:

• The district’s longtime school business administrator, Vincent Gonnella, leading building tours that include the original areas of the auditorium. He also will display artifacts from the school’s civil defense room — where students were to take shelter in the event of an atomic attack during the Cold War.

• Board games that visitors can play. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their own games in addition to a picnic dinner.

• An ice cream truck with treats available for purchase.
Harding will have other events throughout its centennial year.

Residents also will have more opportunities to learn about the bond referendum, including at a meet-and-greet event at Bella Palermo pastry shop, 541 Boulevard in Kenilworth, on Sunday, Aug. 28, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. See kenilworthschools.com for more referendum details and updates on events.

Photos Courtesy of Candy Szymczak