PDS Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

Courtesy of PDS

Courtesy of PDS

Ryan Donnelly, Staff Writer

50 years ago, in 1965, the first students of Princeton Day School gathered for convocation to celebrate the start of the new school born from the merger of Miss Fine’s School and Princeton Country Day School. Dean Mathey, who was a tennis star in the 1920s and had sent his children to Princeton Country Day School, generously donated the land for the new school. For 50 years, Princeton Day School has been offering exceptional education as well as matriculating many successful graduates.

Plans to celebrate the 50th year of Princeton Day School began around Thanksgiving last year. It was decided that PDS would not create new events, but celebrate the traditional events with a twist: Convocation, Fall Weekend, the Thanksgiving Assembly, the play and musical, and even Blue and White Day would be transformed and adapted to fit a common theme of the 50th anniversary, thus making the celebration year-long.

Students on the first day of school 50 years ago, Courtesy of PDS
Students on the first day of school 50 years ago, Courtesy of PDS

“[September 17]’s Convocation is a great example. Since I’ve arrived, we’ve done Convocation … out on the lawn behind Colross, but in the 50th year, we are simply making it a bigger event in a different place,” explained Head of School Paul Stellato.

Convocation this year included the usual speeches to welcome and introduce the students and faculty to the new school year, as well as alumni recognition, a history of Princeton Day given by Mr. Stellato, and a vivid recounting of year one by Middle School history teacher Hank Bristol.

“We’re really trying to … look at and celebrate every aspect of Princeton Day School,” explained Director of Advancement Kathy Schulte. This includes athletics, arts, and alumni. For athletics, PDS is planning to adapt Fall Weekend to accommodate the anniversary theme. PDS will be bringing back notable alumni athletes and coaches, and there will be a special ceremony before the first game of the weekend. For the arts, there will be a reception before the Fall Play to celebrate the extensive history of PDS in the performing arts and theater. In fact, the play this year, “Our Town,” was specifically chosen because it was the first play put on by PDS, starring Christopher Reeve and Herbert McAneny.

Most importantly, the commemoration of Princeton Day School’s 50th anniversary will occur during Alumni Weekend. Although this event is still in the planning stages, Alumni Weekend will be much bigger this year, and will include many more awards

Courtesy of PDS
Courtesy of PDS

and inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame. Alumni Weekend is usually conducted mainly on the Saturday of a spring weekend, but this year, it will span the weekend’s entirety. There will be an enormous gathering with all of the graduating classes celebrating reunions with a special acknowledgement to the first graduating class celebrating its 50 year reunion. Ms. Schulte explained that they wanted to recognize this class especially because “they are so important to us as the first graduating class. And … they’re an interesting class because everything changed for them; the two schools merged, they were this first class of Princeton Day School.” During these events, alumni will be able to see both their former classmates and teachers, with whom they created special connections and memories throughout their time at PDS. Mr. Stellato said, “The 50th will add a much bigger luster to what is always a terrific event.”

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