Centennial Sentiments: Bengals Old and Young Celebrate 100 Years
WATCH VIDEO: Bloomfield High School alumnus share memories at blowout anniversary gala
As sheets of rain battered Bloomfield Saturday night, a flood of memories was moving through Mountain Lakes.
Nearly 400 Bloomfield High School alumni, former and current faculty members, and township officials swarmed the grand ballroom at The Villa for the school's 100-year anniversary celebration, a night fraught with Bengal pride. The four-hour gala, dubbed the "reunion of all reunions" by host Bloomfield Educational Foundation, welcomed generations of Bengals from the class of 2013 to as old as the class of 1936.
"It was just a little old town," said Helene Geyer Schautz, 92, of growing up in Bloomfield in the 30s. "I was on the gym team (back then), and when we had our exhibitions, all the boys came - and I married one of them."
Geyer Schautz, who still lives in town on Essex Avenue, and Miriam Adams Sceurman (class of '37) were the oldest BHS graduates to attend the event. Three generations of the Sceurman family were there Saturday night - all of them BHS graduates - including BEF Chairman Michael Sceurman.
"You (heard) the alma mater in there - 385 people cheering and toasting is a special moment for our Educational Foundation, to bring all these people together under one roof," said Michael Sceurman. "It's just remarkable, the way Bloomfield residents give back."
One BHS alumnus recognized for continually giving back to Bloomfield is Harold Itkin (class of '67), who received a plaque that evening for establishing a football scholarship awarded to the most dedicated Bengal. Tom Dowd, arguably the district's first and only former superintendent born in Bloomfield, received the coveted BEF Founders Award, presented by Chairman Emeritus Joseph Kliminski.
"Every day I spent in Bloomfield whether as a resident or as an educator, it was a day of joy," said Dowd, a former Berkeley Elementary teacher and principal at Carteret Elementary.
Earlier Saturday, a group of about 35 alumni met with BHS Principal Chris Jennings for a tour of the high school, which underwent a multi-million dollar transformation to become a state-of-the-art facility.
A particularly jarring site for some visitors was the now-flattened Foley Field, where BHS had traditionally held its graduation for decades.
"What's amazing about Foley Field is we all have that image of those old bleachers burned in us," said Mike Napolitano, vice president of the Foley Field Restoration Committee. "We're going to try to incorporate that into any design that gets passed."
The historic Foley Field concrete bleachers were demolished in late February leaving behind a startling hole near the John F. Kennedy Drive North spot.
The committee hopes to build a three-tiered grandstand on the field - complete with "Foley Field" written in the iconic red lettering - with the $900,000 Green Acres state grant the township could receive, Napolitano said at the gala.
Bloomfield track and field coach Kelly Finamore (class of '01) said she looks forward to the new Foley Field, which will host pole-vaulting once finished.
"As corny as it may sound, Bloomfield is my heart," said Finamore, a basic skills teacher at Watsessing Elementary. "I love our kids, our teachers, our principals, I love our athletic program. I'm always going to stay a Bloomfield teacher and a Bloomfield coach."
Click through the photo gallery and watch the videos at the top of this story for more centennial sentiments.