COLTS NECK, NJ: On Saturday, March 9, from 11am-2pm, the Conover Road Elementary School (CRES) was transformed into a festive event. It was a 50th Birthday Bash that attracted hundreds of Colts Neck families, teachers, community leaders, retired employees, law enforcement officials, local business owners, etc.
All came together to celebrate 50 years of educational excellence. They gathered to recall the history and to acknowledge the individuals who founded CRES, and those who through the years built upon that foundation to bring it to where it is today, at age 50. There was a lot to be proud of and to celebrate. There were also many people to lovingly remember, miss and thank.
At 11:00am the entrance hallways were lined with older students welcoming and greeting the guests. The multi-purpose room was already packed at 11:05. Guests were seated to hear the warm welcome address from current Conover Road Elementary School Principal Mr. James Osmond.
The room was decorated with colorful wall hangings, a table with historic photos and documents, and beautiful fresh flowers were displayed, compliments of A Country Flower Shoppe and More, in Colts Neck. After everyone joined together to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Principal Osmond introduced the children's choir, who opened with a beautiful sentimental tune that you can listen to below.
VIDEO: You can listen to the Conover Road Elementary School children's choir here:
After the children sang and set the tone for a special afternoon, Principal Osmond thanked the Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Garibay, the administrative team, teachers both current and retired, the planning committee...
VIDEO: You can hear in detail Principal Osmond giving thanks to all of those who helped plan the celebration, event sponsors, etc:
Superintendent Dr. Garibay made a speech welcoming and thanking everyone. Garibay commented, "Today we are celebrating so much more than a building. Today we are celebrating 50 years of people who have filled the hallways and classrooms here... What we remember are the people and the experiences that are created within our schools... and that is what we honor here today. In fact a building is not a school without the people and the very special relationships and experiences that are created within its walls. Today the pride that I feel as superintendent of Colts Neck schools is truly, truly immeasurable. Today is a celebration! Conover Road Elementary School forever bonds us."
Garibay's speech fit perfectly with the event's dedication of a room at CRES now coined 'The Principals' Corner,' carved out to honor and remember the 5 former principals who served at CRES. They are Mrs. Shirley Anderson 1969-1990, Dr. Judy Landis, 1990-2000, Mr. Christopher Rooney, 2000-2003, Ms. Joan Kilcommons, 2003-2007 and Dr. Jeffrey Huguenin, 2007-2012.
On behalf of the entire Colts Neck Township Committee, Committeemen JP Bartolomeo, former mayor who is also the liaison to the school board, Committeman Mike Viola and Committeeman Frank Rizzutto were all in attendance to celebrate and honor the Conover Road Elementary school, presenting a proclamation in honor and appreciation .
Monmouth County Freeholders Lillian Burry, Pat Impreveduto and Tom Arnone presented CRES with a proclamation declaring March 9, 2019 as Conover Road Elementary School in all of Monmouth County.
Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling commented, "Fifty years of doing anything is a great honor but I can only imagine how many great lives were shaped here through the years... So much learning goes on in elementary school, and it is such a big part of how we turn out. I want to congratulate everyone on such a great celebration of education."
Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling also on behalf of Senator Vin Gopal, and Assemblywoman Joann Downey, presented CRES with a proclamation of congratulations, also giving thanks to the individuals who made CRES possible over the years.
Next, Principal Osmond in a solemn and emotional moment, remembered the Caneiro children, students of CRES, who tragically passed in November of 2018. Osmond commented, "It was a very difficult and tragic year for our school... it's been the perseverance of this community, the school staff and the students that have helped us collectively to get through this very difficult year. With the support of the PTO and with great thanks to the PTO for their generous support we are hereby dedicating the Buddy Bench on this stage to Jesse and Sophia Caneiro."
Both Jesse and Sophia Caneiro walked the halls, sat in the classrooms, sang the songs, learned, laughed, imagined, played and so much more at Conover Road Elementary School. Their mom Jennifer was very involved in the PTO, and their father Keith loved to visit the CRES and participate in his children's activities. TAPinto has a tribute article here.
A special dedication was made 29 years after her retirement, to former CRES principal Shirley Anderson, a special street sign was unveiled titled Anderson Way that will be at the entrance of the school. Anderson is known for many great reasons, one of them being her love of life and fun, like her bright blue corvette that she is known for by so many. Shirley Anderson gave a speech of thanks going over a lot of the history of CRES. She handed over the commemorative key to CRES, that was handed to her to keep. She formally presented it as a gift to CRES, requesting that it be kept in the new Principal's Corner.
After the ceremony, the festivities began! Refreshments like Complimentary Frutta Bowls Colts Neck samples were passed out, as well as colorful cookies, and of course Birthday Cake!
The day was sunny and warm as families enjoyed the outside activities as well as those inside the gym. There were games, balloon art and bouncy houses, gym activities, firetruck, face painting, photo booth and birthday party including music, dancing, and the popular 'Pie the Principal.' Principal Osmond was a great sport as you can see below:
VIDEO: Pie the Principal.
In classic Colts Neck tradition, the community came together to celebrate success, honor those who worked hard to achieve it and looked forward to future successes. Congratulations Conover Road Elementary School. Cheers to the next 50 years!