ROCKDALE – Rockdale School got its start 125 years ago in a one-room schoolhouse.
And while it’s a bit bigger today, the school has maintained the small-town sense of community that makes it special, administrators say.
The school is celebrating its anniversary this weekend, with events for alumni, students and the Rockdale community.
“Everybody knows everybody,” school secretary Toni Condon said of Rockdale.
She would know. Condon has worked for 29 years at Rockdale and lives two blocks from the school – so close she walks her dog, Lola, past it, and all the students know the canine.
“They’re like family, not just students,” said Condon, who noted that part of what makes the school so tight-knit is that it is home to many generations of learning, with alumni sending their children to Rockdale.
While the school is small and its community is close, it’s not quite so small as it once was. The original schoolhouse on Mound Road near Midland Avenue had one teacher – Alma R. Porter – who taught 22 children three levels of classes, according to a school news release.
Today, Rockdale has nearly 300 students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade, and it employs 40 teachers and staff. It is located in a red brick building at 715 Meadow Ave.
Principal Tammy Hafner said that instead of the slates Rockdale’s first pupils used, today each student has a Chromebook on which to learn. This year, the school added solar power on its roof so students can collect solar data, and over the summer a wind turbine will be installed.
However, Rockdale has also maintained its small-town sensibility, Hafner said, in that its students are in the same building for grades kindergarten through eighth grade, and many walk to school. Teachers often stay at Rockdale for several years, she said, and are invested in the community.
Rockdale is honoring that community in several ways.
A 3-on-3 alumni basketball tournament began Thursday and will conclude Friday evening.
On Saturday, there will be a full day of festivities, starting with the Rams on the Run 5K Race to benefit the school’s music and athletic programs. The 5K will start and end at Rockdale School. Registration is $35 and participants can sign up online at http://125th.rockdale84.org or the day of the race at the school.
From 11 a.m. to noon, the school will host an open house. Then, at 2 p.m., there will be a Family Fun Parade, which will step off at Stryker and Meadow avenues and travel east down Meadow Avenue to CB Diamond Park, where an Inflatable Carnival and Celebration will be held from 3 to 7 p.m.
Hafner said the school has held similar alumni events with parades in the past and with this year’s parade, it hopes to honor that tradition.
“It’s just a celebration of our community, our school, learning,” she said.
Visit http://125th.rockdale84.org/ for more information about the Rockdale School 125th anniversary festivities