BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island school, one of the first in the nation to be named for President John F. Kennedy, spent Friday honoring his legacy on the 50th anniversary of his death.
John F. Kennedy Middle School in Bethpage was named for the 35th president just four days after he was assassinated. The school shares the first naming rights with a school in Montana and on Friday both shared a ceremony via Skype and recalled Kennedy’s words, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
To honor the late president, the Long Island school’s gymnasium was transformed into a museum with pictures and stories about Kennedy.
“I’m really excited how we came together as a school and we created this entire thing in just a few weeks,” said eighth grader Nicole El Chami. “It’s such an honor.”
One exhibit featured videos of teachers, who lived through the tragedy, sharing their memories.
“We weren’t alive so it’s good to hear stories from who was around,” said sixth grader Angelina Alcarese.
Students read essays and poetry in remembrance of Kennedy, analyzed his inaugural address as part of a literacy lesson, learned about the space race and also took part in JFK trivia, Principal Kevin Fullerton said.
“He emphasized the theme citizenship, and with the privilege of being Americans comes responsibility and we need to be choosing each of us to make a difference in our communities,” said Scott Reich, author of “The Power of Citizenship.”
The school was also rededicated during a special ceremony Friday afternoon.
“It’s really a big day for us and we’re very excited, because we’re very proud of our name,” Assistant Principal Scott Zanville told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “It should be very educational. There will be some solemn moments.”
Students celebrated Kennedy’s accomplishments and turned a grave loss into a promise that his legacy will live on.
“It was heartbreaking because he was the leader of our country and he represented a lot,” sixth grader Sean McCann told CBS 2’s Gusoff.
“He was a great president and he never gave up,” one sixth grader told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
“This day means a lot, he was like the best president in the world,” another student said.
“We’ll always remember him in our hearts,” said sixth grader Adina Rahman.
Earlier this week, the school received a package from Caroline Kennedy that included an autographed copy of “John F. Kennedy: The Inaugural Address,” Fullerton said.
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