Memories and traditions highlight celebration of College’s 150th

Upon entering the College campus, signs, flags and countdown clocks make it evident that something big is happening – something called Sesquicentennial. To many, this word has no meaning. But to the College community, it means history, tradition and looking toward the future.

At the College, that calls for a celebration – a yearlong one, with the words of Emily Dickinson in mind: “We turn not older with years, but newer every day,” the slogan, quoted from Dickinson’s letters, reads.

On Sept. 8, 2004, the College kicked off its 150th anniversary – the Sesquicentennial. Established in 1855 by the state legislature as the New Jersey State Normal School (the first teacher training school in the state and the ninth in the nation), the College has grown from just 15 students to over 6,750 today.

To commemorate the College’s 150th anniversary, there have been several events held that explore and honor the school’s history and expansion. The Sesquicentennial Celebration will continue into the 2005-2006 academic year.

“This institution has evolved in scope and scale far beyond the imagination of the founding fathers,” College President R. Barbara Gitenstein said in a letter addressed to the campus community regarding the Sesquicentennial.

“Our first students came for the purpose of preparation as teachers,” she wrote. “Today, some of the highest achieving students from across the state and region come to the College to study in a wide range of liberal arts and professional studies programs.”

Highlights of the past year’s celebration included Opening Day on Sept. 8, 2004, which began with a torch run through Trenton and Ewing Township. The event honored the College’s location change from North Clinton Avenue in Trenton to its current location in Ewing Township.

Founder’s Day, held Feb. 9, 2004, included a scavenger hunt around campus, a trip to Rockefeller Center to show pride on “The Today Show,” and a 150th birthday party in Brower Student Center.

On Founder’s Day, members of the College community also began submitting items for the time capsule. These items evoke the “special feeling” shared by the campus community in the Sesquicentennial year, according to the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee. It will be buried under the New Library and re-opened in 2055.

Campus community members are invited to submit items until Sept. 9 for possible inclusion in the time capsule. The Time Capsule Ceremony will be held on Oct. 29, to celebrate the planting of the capsule beneath the New Library.

As part of its own Sesquicentennial Celebration, the College will host a three-day symposium on Sept. 22 celebrating the 150th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will feature some of the nation’s most prominent poets and intellectuals, and will attract teachers and scholars from around the region.

The Celebration’s events will come to an end Oct. 30 at the Grand Finale Presidential Brunch.