Sesquicentennial set to kick off next fall

Monday, Feb. 9 marked the kickoff of the College’s sesquicentennial celebration with the unveiling of the countdown clock located outside of the Brower Student Center. Following a short address by College President R. Barbara Gitenstein, the first event for the 150-year celebration was announced – the naming of the Lion mascot.

The Sesquicentennial Planning Committee (SQC), sanctioned by the College Board of Trustees, has been preparing for the celebration for over two years.

Janis Blayne Paul, chief sesquicentennial officer, has been diligently working along with the other members of the SQC in preparation for upcoming events.

“We want to have fun with this,” Paul said. “We want everyone on campus to feel like they are a part of the history of this place. There are many opportunities for different groups to get involved.” Paul said.

Although the naming of the mascot will mark the kickoff of sesquicentennial events, the core of activities will take place next fall. According to Paul, beginning in August with Welcome Week, first year students will be introduced to the 150-year anniversary through the incorporation of the sesquicentennial theme into various events.

Paul said the SQC has planned a large number of activities for September, and plans on involving students, staff and alumni in the celebration of the College’s vast history.

The entire campaign will officially open with a ceremony and torch run from the school’s original site on North Clinton Avenue. The Community Fest scheduled for October will also feature aspects of the Sesquicentennial theme.

“I think the efforts of the (SQC) will have a big influence on the students, because it shows that we have a history many of us don’t know about,” Laureen Biruk, junior student representative to the SQC, said. “We’re all tied to that history, so it’s important to get everyone involved and to get the word out.”

Homecoming, one of the events that will be most influenced by the efforts of the (SQC), will undergo some alterations for Fall 2004.

One of the possible additions will be a Homecoming parade featuring floats. Kevin McHugh, chairman of student and athletics subcommittee and director of athletics, is rearing the efforts to integrate the sesquicentennial theme into the Homecoming events.

“What we’re trying to do is have a parade involving the school as well as (Ewing) township in the Homecoming celebration,” McHugh said. “We want to bring back alumni and involve current students as much as possible.”

According to McHugh, the sesquicentennial theme will also be incorporated into the athletic program. Athletic uniforms as well as equipment will don the sesquicentennial patch. Additionally, the subcommittee is working on organizing events to recognize specific teams in history to honor some of the College’s best athletes.

Paul said another event to take place next fall is “Question of the Week,” which will feature trivia and historical questions about the College. With the aid of clues provided at various places around campus, students can win prizes for answering questions correctly.

According to Paul, Campus Colors Day will also coincide with the sesquicentennial celebration. Although still being finalized, the anticipated concept is that students can receive free or discounted prices by wearing the College’s colors to various on-campus eateries, restaurants in the area or other specific locations.

Although the majority of the sesquicentennial celebration activities will take place next fall, the unveiling of the clock, the mascot-naming contest and some additional, tentative events scheduled for the spring were all created to provide students and staff with the awareness of the College’s upcoming 150th anniversary.

“The sesquicentennial celebration is a great time to reconnect and reengage our alumni to provide opportunities for friends, neighbors and colleagues to learn about our history and a means to create new relationships and new friends for the future,” Paul said.

After the sesquicentennial clock ticks down to Sep. 8, 2004, the official beginning of the 150th anniversary, it will be reset for Oct. 9, 2005, which marks the closing ceremonies. The SQC is also creating a time capsule to formally recognize and solidify this momentous commemoration of the College’s history, Paul added.

The College was initially named the New Jersey State Normal School and originally located on North Clinton Avenue in Trenton. According to Paul, one of the efforts the SQC hopes to accomplish is to enlighten the campus and surrounding community about the College’s vast history by engaging in exciting and innovative festivities.

“I believe the sesquicentennial celebration will benefit the College in numerous ways, building upon Homecoming, involving the surrounding community and further enhancing the appeal for prospective students,” Chris Mecoli, freshman chemistry major, said.

Any students looking for more information about upcoming events or willing to get involved can visit the sesquicentennial Web site at