By Juan Soto
Bayside’s Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 is turning 60.
To commemorate the big anniversary, the school wants its alumni to participate in the big festival which will be held at the educational facility Nov. 2.
The celebration is twofold. Besides blowing the 60 candles, MS 74 also wants to raise money to install a digital sign in the school’s facade.
“It will be nice to flash our accomplishments and we will also be able to announce upcoming events,” said Richard Schaffer, Hawthorne’s assistant principal.
Schaffer said the school, at 61-15 Oceania St., has a full program set up for that day.
There will be exhibits, a big lunch, music and speeches.
In fact, the keynote speaker will feature the prolific children science books writer Seymour Simon, who taught at MS 74 for over 20 years.
Graduates from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70 shave already confirmed they plan to attend the anniversary celebration.
“They will be able to visit their old classrooms and see how they changed after all these years,” Schaffer said.
All yearbooks since the school opened its doors in 1954 will be on display in the library. In 1955, MS 74 celebrated the first graduating class.
In the 1968 yearbook there is a familiar face. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) is a Hawthorne graduate.
She, like several other elected officials, will be attending the celebration two days before the Nov. 4 Election Day.
Another Hawthorne graduate is Howie Rose, New York Met’s radio voice on WOR.
The sportscaster will not be able to attend the celebration because of work —he is covering the New York Islanders—but he will record a video message in the school’s TV studio for the Nov. 2 party.
The Bayside Times will also have a presence in the celebration. In an exhibit that will be located in the gym, the school will display Bayside Times newspapers clippings from the ‘60s, as well as the original blueprints for the school’s complex.
In addition, the school has launched an online auction to raise money to buy the digital sign. So far, it has raised more than $2,400 from the online auction. Items in the auction include gift certificates for restaurants and stores; circus, museum and movie tickets; a Starbucks Verisimo machine and Walt Disney World tickets.
“There is a variety of things for auction,” Schaffer said.
The budget for the school digital sign is about $10,000.
Between the auction, commemorative T-shirts and other items, and selling exquisites lunches for the day, Schaffer is confident the academic center will raise the money needed for the project.
So far, the school has raised over $4,000 from all its fund-raising activities.
“Between what we have, and the lunch at school, the T-shirts and other items, we hope to reach what we need,” said Schaffer. “We will also suggest a $5 donation at the door. That’s why I think we will be able to get the digital sign.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.