Preserving the Past at Ossining High School

The museum features school rings from Stacy Scarduzio (pictured), her mother and her grandmother. Photo Marc Ferris

The historic section of Ossining High School, which features a tower that rises above the slate roof, a distinctive brick and stone exterior motif and other architectural frills, dates to 1929. 

Like all schools, many people roamed these halls over the years and created yearbooks, newspapers and other items that document their presence. But it is rare to find one that designates space for a museum. 

“We are proud of our history,” said principal LaToya Langley. 

Located off a busy ground-floor corridor, the ordinary classroom contains a few display cases, shelves, drawers and even an old locker, which serves as a repository of archival material that reveals a portion of the school’s story. 

Right across the hallway from the counseling center, the room is also used by counselors and is where college representatives make their pitches to the students. 

Several years ago, former principal Joshua Mandel and nurse Veronica Cunningham reached out to alumni, who sent in all kinds of memorabilia, said Michele Marona, an administrative assistant at the school and the room’s de facto curator.  

An alum herself, along with eight siblings, Marona grew up across the street. A photo of the 1967 hockey team skating on the field behind the school evoked memories. 

Several sports items are featured including a photo of the 1911 varsity football team. Photo supplied

“The drainage was pretty bad, so every year they used to flood the field,” she said. “We would skate all winter back there.” 

She has a crimson sweater, a photo of the 1905 championship girls’ basketball team and several gifts from graduating seniors, including a punchbowl from the class of 1958. Copies of the school yearbook, The Wizard, go back to 1915 when the school occupied the Washington School, which is now a church. 

Beyond documenting the students’ theatrical activities, the Annual High School Show Program also opens a window on long-defunct businesses in town that advertised in its pages.  

Several lapel buttons threaten archrival Sleepy Hollow’s football team: in 1969, they aimed to “Scalp Sleepy” (at the time, the school named its teams the Indians). The following year, “Smash Sleepy” served as the rallying cry and in 1984, they determined to “Crush Sleepy.” 

A Hall of Fame of sorts, featuring around a dozen alums, hangs high on two walls. The frames include before and after photos along with a brief list of each person’s accomplishments. Perhaps the two most famous are actor Peter Falk and musician Sonny Sharrock 

Historical displays are also located in other parts of the school. The covers of several books written by alums hang on a wall in the library, including Roger M. Williams, who wrote a biography of musician Hank Williams. David Goewey covered a local topic in Crash Out: The True Tale of a Hell’s Kitchen Kid & the Bloodiest Escape in Sing Sing History. 

Douglas M. Parker, who wrote a biography of poet Ogden Nash, sent his book along with a letter praising his English teacher, Raymond Hughes, which is at the museum. “I had some fine teachers along the way [Parker also graduated from Cornell University and Cornell Law School], but none was better than Mr. Hughes.” 

The school’s sports wing also hosts several display cases with trophies and other items, but the cutoff date is around the 1990s. Everything else ends up at the museum. 

For Stacy Scarduzio, an administrative assistant at the school, the past is personal. One display case contains her class ring (1990), her mother’s ring (1965) and her grandmother’s (1939). Her father and mother met at the school, to boot. 

Marona plans to put members of the school’s National Honor Society to work cataloguing and archiving the collection as part of their community service requirement. 

“Taking care of this room could be a full-time job,” said Marona. “I’m having a ball. I’m born and raised here and I love Ossining history, it’s a part of me.” 

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About the Author: Marc Ferris