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Cinnaminson Schools Mark 150 Years

The district recognized its rich history Thursday, with Superintendent Salvatore Illuzzi calling it "an opportunity to recall some of the giants in this community."

Credit: Provided
Credit: Provided

Long before the first bricks were laid to build Eleanor Rush or New Albany schools, Cinnaminson was part of one super district that also encompassed Delran, Riverton and Palmyra.

A resolution passed by the township on Dec. 14, 1863, establishes the creation of the Cinnaminson School District, which at the time included all four of the abovementioned communities. The district honored that heritage and commemorated its 150th anniversary Thursday.

At that time, the district was limited to just first through sixth grades and was primarily for boys, Superintendent Salvatore Illuzzi said. It wasn’t until the 1880s that each of towns established their own districts.

And it wasn’t just the geography of the district that was different. There are plenty of contrasts between the school system then and now, Illuzzi explained. Take the concept of public school—it didn’t exist.

“In order to send your kid to school, you had to pay tuition. There was no public school system,” he said. “Only around a quarter of the population that could go to school went to school.”

Cinnaminson students attended two schools up until the early ‘60s: the Strabel School (now the Memorial School/district administrative offices) for white students, and the Phillips School, a one-room schoolhouse for African-American students (now home to the Burlington County Footlighters).

Beginning in 1961, with the Cinnaminson High School groundbreaking—prior to that all Cinnaminson students attended Palmyra High School—the district began to take on its current state, with all four existing schools being constructed the early part of that decade, Illuzzi said.

Cinnaminson students and faculty recognized that history Thursday. Events and activities were organized district-wide, including the annual senior citizens breakfast. Middle school students gave a presentation to the nearly 200 seniors in attendance—some of whom attended the Strabel and Phillips schools—covering the district’s rich heritage.

“It’s just a fascinating history … The names keep reappearing of the folks who made this district what it is,” said Illuzzi. “This is an opportunity to recall some of the giants in this community.”

Much of the credit for the present-day district’s knowledge of that history goes to Joan Novatoski, who, in doing the research for the township’s 150th anniversary a few years back, came upon the resolution establishing the school district.

“We kept that resolution, knowing we would do something (when the day came),” said Illuzzi.

Novatoski, a former journalist, said she’s always been fascinated by history and doing research, which led to her discovery of the resolution. Though now a Florida resident— “I think the snow became too much,” she said of her exodus to the south—Novatoski lived in Cinnaminson for roughly half a century.

She moved to town in the late ‘50s, and at that time, much of it was still farmland, she said.

“As the town grew, we needed schools,” said Novatoski, a former member of the town’s historic preservation commission. “We wanted a good strong community, with a good school system … It’s developed into a great school system.”
John December 13, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Great history lesson, why was there not a line in the school budget for future building and repairs....Someone dropped the ball....Now we are going to pay the price....
Liz Matt December 13, 2013 at 11:47 AM
It's quite sobering to learn that within my lifetime, communities like this had racially segregated public schools. I didn't grow up in Cinnaminson so it's the first I'm encountering this info.
Rob Scott (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Sad but true, Liz.
John December 13, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Pundit, did U expect anything else from Rob the troll...He does not check out information he just prints it....Oh well this is life today from everyone....
Rob Scott (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Thank you for your support, John. Always a pleasure. In response to you and Pundit, I offer this, from the superintendent: "In 1906, the Five Points School, later re-named the Phillips School, was built for the 'colored' children of the township so that they could have their own teachers and their own classrooms. This segregated school operated through the 1951-52 school year. Integration of Cinnaminson Schools began in September, 1952."
Rob Scott (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Furthermore, Pundit, the article you referenced about the Footlighters does state that the Phillips School was a school for African-American students in the '20s, but does not mention specifically when it STOPPED being a segregated school. It does, however, say, "Then in the '60s, it was an elementary school serving the township." So I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but I have confidence in my sources.
that guy December 13, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Actually, her statement is quite vague. It said "Communities like Cinnaminson"; NOT Cinnaminson. So to say it didnt happen in her lifetime, is just poor reading. And in her lifetime means that, if she was born in 1920, she is only 93. I believe that this is a fair statement because she would have probably attended school around 6-8 years old, making it 1928. Meaning, not only did it stay segregated during that time, she could have very well been IN A SCHOOL school during segregation in Cinnaminson. Your statement, is just poor math.
Rob Scott (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Pundit, And here's another hole as I see it in your argument: Brown v. Board of Education—THE landmark case in the argument against school segregation—was decided in 1954. Now, some schools were integrated prior to that, but many were not. So unless Cinnaminson/New Jersey was 20-30 years ahead of its time, I find it hard to believe that Cinnaminson schools were desegregated in the '30s. (Nevermind the fact that, again, I have faith in my sources on this matter.)
that guy December 13, 2013 at 03:57 PM
You really want to be talking about crying and complaining Pundit? Really? Again, the entertainment value of you and John is priceless.
that guy December 13, 2013 at 04:02 PM
I think the best part of your argument is the fact that you said in YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIANCES.........Unless you have known Liz Matt all his/her life, that is considerred YOUR OPINION. NOT FACT.
John December 13, 2013 at 07:11 PM
that guy, I am glad U find Pundit and I so funny, as far as name calling I do not normally do that but if someone calls me a internet troll I will respond accordingly...U have a wonderful laugh ok...
that guy December 14, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Actually Ma'am, I believe you called Rob the troll. I have yet to see him call you that on this thread........ Why don't you just start your own patch to self-love in? John December 13, 2013 at 01:55 PM Pundit, did U expect anything else from Rob the troll...He does not check out information he just prints it....Oh well this is life today from everyone....
that guy December 14, 2013 at 12:38 PM
these are facts...
that guy December 14, 2013 at 01:27 PM
well, he certainly isn't worthy of calling him a Sir or a gentleman by any means. Though I do love fishing in the Del, I fail to see the association with the internet. This is according to your favorite dictionary, Webster..... Trolling- 1.drag baited line through water: to fish by dragging a baited line through water, or from the back of a boat moving slowly if anything, its kinda like when you started that fire department discussion last week, and the week before that. That, is a troll son. But lets not forget that "John" did call rob a troll unprovoked which is entirely unnecessary.
Liz Matt December 14, 2013 at 03:22 PM
I recall writing it was "sobering" to learn of aspects of our town's segregated history. Yes, I was alive in the early 50s. Yes, segregation was a sad and shameful stain in our national story, here and everywhere. My comment was not meant to malign anyone but was meant as a personal reflection within the public forum that Patch provides.
that guy December 14, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Well, your certainly not acting like a normal adult on here. So yes, son.
John December 15, 2013 at 10:25 AM
that guy, U better check out your facts Rob called me a troll way before I called him one, so YOUR WRONG....U have a great day
that guy December 15, 2013 at 03:22 PM
By definition, you are a troll. You 2 look for conflict on the patch. Hence the fire house discussions that had nothing to do with the original subject AND the unprovoked name calling in this thread. So yes troll. Please use it correctly son.

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