Congratulations to the 79 seniors at Red Creek Central School who graduated Friday. Red Creek students are composed of children from Victory, North Victory, Westbury, Sterling, Fair Haven and Red Creek.
The top five of this year's class are Kelsey Burch, Olivia Durham, Benjamin Dates, Desiree Matthews and Ashley O'Bryan. Eighteen seniors had a cumulative average of 90 percent or higher and 85 percent of the class is going to college or the military.
The Red Creek Science Olympiad Team was a repeat winner for NYS Best Small School in competition at West Point in March. The Drama Club performed “To Kill a Mockingbird” this past March. The school has won the “Best Drama” award in Wayne County for five of the past eight years.
The Athletic Director's Honor Roll student-athletes maintaining 90+ averages during both fall and winter sport seasons were: Heather Cole, Lori Daratt, Benjamin Dates, Kevin Dates, Leah Fries, Kayla Gauger, Colton Gregg, Anthony Losurdo, Jena Lunkenheimer, John Misso, Holly Natale, Kyle Salo, Eric Stevens, Eli Vitale and Emma Vitale. The Red Creek varsity girls' soccer, varsity boys' basketball and varsity girls' basketball teams won NYS Public High School Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete Team awards this year also.
And now for some history of Red Creek and the school - when Jacob Snyder came to Owasco Lake to farm from New Jersey, he had no idea he would forge north through the wilderness in 1812 with his large family and buy land which would become most of the Village of Red Creek. Red Creek was first called Jacksonville in honor of General Andrew Jackson. Snyder constructed a mill on the stream and made a dam on the pond for power. Other tanneries followed, and their water run-off cast a reddish color to the water, hence the name of the village which became Red Creek around 1936. Some old maps carry the name of the pond as Red Lake. Jacob Snyder's descendents are the Snyder's, the Viele's, the Heron's and the Eldridge's.
The first school house was the Academy in 1837, becoming Red Creek Union Academy in 1839, Red Creek Union Seminary in 1867 and Red Creek Seminary and Union School in 1895. The school was accredited by the Board of Regents in 1904 and became Red Creek High School with its first graduating class in 1905.
A new high school building was approved in 1929, and an addition was added in 1939 along with the approval of the centralization of some 18 rural districts from Victory, Sterling, Wolcott and Butler to become Red Creek Central School.
In 1949, a bus garage was built behind the high school. Four of the first bus drivers hired were from Victory #) Charles White, Lena Houghtaling, Wayne and Bessie Coleman. In September 1955, a new elementary school, Margaret M. Cuyler Elementary School, was approved and dedicated Nov. 18, 1956. It was built on the site of the former Municipal Airport on South Street. The Class of 1963 was the first class to “graduate” (from sixth grade) from the Cuyler building.
Some historical school news: We had our first ever foreign exchange student, Eric Blakstredt, from Norway in the 1958-59 school year. In the 1960-61 school year, Tage Jensen from Videbaek, Denmark came to school with us.
Miss Marie Roach (Caywood) was the editor of the first yearbook, the Centralite, with the Class of 1945. The school has gone through several mascots and names. In the '60s, the boys basketball team was called the “Riders,” and school colors were maroon and gold. Colors later change to red and white in the late '60s and the mascot was the ram.
The Student Council planned and supervised the “Moving-Up Day” program in May each year when new officers were elected, yearbooks distributed and a great picnic was held on the lawn behind the high school. Just for that day, you could dress casual and wear shorts, sign each others yearbooks, vote for student council, attend council rallies for candidates and just have fun ) no regular classes. Some of the teachers roasted hot dogs for the students out back at the fireplace and the cafeteria ladies made salads. It was a great fun day for all.
Team teaching was a special project for 1964. We had great assemblies through the years. Fred Lowery, the world's foremost whistling artist performed at the high school in 1962. He could whistle the “William Tell Overture” among other things, and we thought he was amazing. Bea Solomon performed once at an evening concert (along with her poodle), and I knew after that I wanted to sing like she did. I thought she was beautiful, and we had never seen anything like her in our country school. We did have our own “Kookie Kapers” and “Odds and Ends” shows with our own very talented local people in Red Creek.
Our band director, Mr. Edward Lisk, was young and handsome when he came to Red Creek Central in the fall of 1959. He played clarinet (probably why I played clarinet) and performed in the band at Three Rivers Inn, Phoenix for visiting celebrities and their musical acts. He lives in Oswego now and still teaches around the world. The band and chorus made a LP record in 1963 and 1964. On July 1, 1965 the senior band and honor chorus performed at the World's Fair in New York City. We even played once for a visiting circus at school, and it was hard to keep your eyes on the music and circus performers at the same time.
We were preparing for a band concert at school on Nov. 22, 1963 when it came across the loud speakers early afternoon that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Our concert that night was dedicated to him and very somber. It was one of the saddest times at school. We didn't have FOX or CNN then, so coverage was slow coming and limited on television.
The annual Latin Banquet was held in May with students in togas being served by slaves in true Roman style. Remember the menu “Ab ovo usque ad mala” (from egg to apple) also SPQR Senatus Populusque Romani (the Senate and the people of Rome). Mr. Audrey Crayton, who taught all four years of Latin, would be proud of me.
Under the direction of Mr. Donald Hartley, our soccer program flourished. Coach Hartley won his fourth NYS Class C championship in 2005 and has received many awards for NYS Soccer Coach of the year.
In the early 1970s a new Jr.-Sr. high school was approved and dedicated Feb. 3, 1974 at the southern end of the elementary school on South Street.
I have been on the Red Creek Central School Alumni Committee for the past seven years. We have seen dedication in continuing our traditions from our predecessors on the committee and from our present committee ) Catherine Bailey, Barbara VanDusen Hill and Lisa Bailey Sidoti. We are indebted to Grace Ford Durell, Class of 1941 for writing our Alma Mater and to Patricia Milliman Easton, Class of 1956 for playing the song each year on the piano. The tune is the same as the Cornell “Alma Mater,” which begins “high above Cayuga's waters…” Grace wrote:
“Of our noble Alma Mater, loyally we sing
In the heart of every student, may her praises ring.
Red Creek Central, stand and cheer her
may her fame ne'er die.
While we live, we'll always cherish
Happy days gone by.“
Yes, you can go home again and enjoy those happy days and wonderful memories with classmates. We hope everyone enjoyed the alumni banquet, and we'll see you next year.
Beverly Sayles grew up in the town of Victory and writes about its history.