By SARAH PARR ‘16
When the Rutgers Prep community returns to campus in 2016, it will not only be a new year it will be the beginning of a yearlong celebration of Prep’s 250th birthday.
From special events to numerous publications, the 250th anniversary of Rutgers Prep will bring the talents of the entire community together in celebration.
Mrs. Susan Gantz, Director of Advancement, joined Prep in August 2014, and is in charge of fundraising, alumni relations and communications, publications, and planning the 250th anniversary celebrations. She’s “never had so much fun at alumni events, just talking to people,” and realized that “RPS is a special place. People want to stay connected even after their technical affiliation is over,” inspiring the attitude of inclusivity among Argonauts past and present.
Since this year, RPS has displayed its special 250 logo on flags, banners, websites, publica- tions, and more. But Mrs. Gantz said, “The new crest will not replace the original crest…[the new crest] is a way to celebrate, to be creative and timely. One doesn’t replace the other.”
To launch the anniversary year, on the first day of school in 2016, January 5, there will be a school-wide assembly at the end of the day. There will be a visual
historical component, as well as a special anniversary proclamation document, which the entire RPS community will get the chance to sign. Current students and faculty get to sign their names first. Also, there will be a photo taken of all students together in one big group.
Mrs. Gantz said that, “A school isn’t a school without the students!”
Everyone attending will get an RPS jersey to wear for the photo, and to keep.
For those who enjoy the outdoors, 250Miles4RPS will be the most fun way to celebrate. This “once-in-a-lifetime journey” will consist of two major parts: a 75-mile backpacking trip along the Appa- lachian Trail in New Jersey during the second week of Spring Break, and a 175-mile hiking, biking, and kayaking trip around New Jersey, probably over the course of several weekends in May. The second trip will culminate in a hike to see the old RPS building on the College Avenue campus, returning home for a celebration on May 31. All are encouraged to participate.
If this sounds appealing, Mr. Russ Bartlett, organizer of the trip, said, “Anyone interested…even joining us for a day here or there should contact me… Absolutely no experience is necessary just a sense of adventure!”
The new Honors250 Community Service Award will start its permanent presence during Honors Convocation in 2016. A service hours goal that must be reached by April 25, 2016, this big commitment cannot be “crammed” for, as Mr. Bartlett, head of community service, said.
“Have a plan. Check in with [me] or Mrs. [Sandra] Kalista ahead of time. Don’t wait to the last minute or come too close to the deadline. Slow and steady over the course of the year…”
Mrs. Gantz said that it’s “incredible we can even talk about [Honors250]…to have students who want to do it. It tells so much about our school…giving back to others is seen as a way to celebrate.”
Mr. Bartlett said, “We will be asking Honors250 students to do a little extra reflecting on their entire experience, either by writing about it as a whole, or being interviewed on camera.”
There are also three publications, put together by Upper School faculty members, that will help celebrate Prep’s 250th.
Ms. Eireann Corrigan’s book, The Next 250 Years, was written in Seussian couplets, and students from all divisions of RPS contributed illustrations and couplets. The book is not for sale, but it is part of the RPS library collection. It was created as a gift to give to supporters of the school.
Mr. Tim Cohen’s book will be a “Volume Two” of Rutgers Prep’s history, picking up where former teacher, Mr. Frank Sperduto, left off in his volume one (1766- 1950), in the 1960s. Mr. Cohen has been working on this since 2007, and has been gathering content from school publications, minutes of meetings, interviews, and countless other sources.
Mr. Cohen brings Prep’s story up to the present, writing about major events, but also about the programs, technology, and culture of the people at Prep. “I want it to be fun as well as informative; I’m not writing a textbook!”
According to Mrs. Gantz, the two volumes are to be combined into a complete story, and will be available in fall 2016.
Mr. Scot Wittman ’86 is in the midst of creating a coffee table book of photos of 250 RPS “things.” This is a special project for him as a photographer, teacher, and alum.
“My idea was to photograph 250 objects rather than people: objects so many can see themselves in, and can tell the story of our unique community…” Mr. Wittman said. “Please do not hesitate to send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org… Some great suggestions [of objects] have come from students, faculty, past faculty, alums, parents, friends, friends of friends but there’s still time to help with great ideas! I’ve been learning just how big the number 250 can be.”
Although, “250 objects to tell our story…may not be enough,” the book is scheduled to come out towards the end of 2016.
A project for the entire community to contribute to online probably to culminate in a blog style format is RPS stories in 250 words or less. The goal will be to put together a collection of 250 stories.
The big event will be the birthday party on the 250th day of the 250th year. It will take place on September 6 at the State Theater in New Brunswick. Everyone is invited: alums, students, faculty, past teachers, and parents. Tickets must be purchased, but they will be a nominal price. The party will be performance-based, with a surprise headline act.
As for how the anniversary year will end, Mrs. Gantz said, “There will be some kind of closing event… in November or Decem- ber.” It will be a time to conclude the proclamation that will have been accumulating signatures throughout the year. “Whether alums are near or far, [the point is] to invite everyone to think about Rutgers Prep at the same time.”