This year will mark 50 years since Turkey Hill School opened its doors to the community and its former principals, staff and alumni are invited to celebrate. The Turkey Hill School PTO is planning a variety of family friendly events to take place at the school from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 16 which will include, oversized and carnival-style games, a book fair, raffle, silent auction and more. The day will conclude with an outdoor movie that will begin at sunset.
To commemorate the school’s “birthday,” each of the six grades has adopted a decade and will present a collection of visual projects that will highlight life at Turkey Hill from 1964 to the present. The day will include many of the activities typically enjoyed at the school’s end of the year picnic, like the Dunk Tank, photo booth and cook-out with food for sale from Outback Steak House.
Event coordinator Jeanine Capecelatro said the school’s PTO is working hard to organize the celebration. “When I heard last year that this year would be the school’s 50th birthday, my ears perked up,” Capecelatro said. “I thought it would be fun to expand on our annual family picnic with more activities and invite alumni and former staff.”
THS Principal Denise Arterbery said current students are having fun going through the stacks of the school’s old photo album-style yearbooks that are housed in the library. “They are making observations and inferences noticing the similarities and differences between the ‘60s ‘70s, ‘80s and now ˗ what life at Turkey Hill was like then, what clothing the students wore, and the hair styles,” Arterbery said. They are also comparing the types of field day activities and school trips and highlighting the popular authors of the time. A book of photos and news articles chronicling the construction of the school is being used to present a video reenactment of the time.
Arterbery also reached out to Dorothy Berger, who was the school’s first principal and remained in the position for 20 years before becoming the town’s First Selectwoman. “After talking with her I realized that even though it’s been 50 years, we shared similar challenges and goals,” she said. Like Berger, Arterbery’s focus is on students’ individual growth and what is best for the children and the THS community. “Turkey Hill was forward thinking back then and it still is,” she said. “We may not fit a cookie cutter mold but we adapt to fit our population.”
One Orange family that has always been well represented at Turkey Hill is the Doheny family. Monica Doheny Csejka and her twin sister Margie Doheny Sansone were among 11 siblings and seven Doheny cousins that attended the school consecutively from 1964 to 1986. “At one point there were 11 Dohenys in the school at the same time, sometimes even two and three in the same grade,” Csejka said. Now Csejka’s daughter Kennedy is in the sixth grade at the school and her son Jason graduated two years ago. “I think there should be a wing or a hallway named after us, we’ve been at the school longer than Dottie Berger,” Csejka said. “My brother said we probably spent more time in the principal’s office than the principal!”
More details about the celebration will be available in the coming weeks.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent