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COLONIE: Beyond golden

Southgate Elementary school staff will have a tough time getting their hands on Happy 51st Anniversary party supplies, but it is a small price to pay for originality.

On Wednesday, June 6, the school in the North Colonie Central School District will celebrate 51 years in the business of teaching. The school has put together a unique event, highlighting the history and people of the area, from the Mohawk Indians to the suburbanization of Colonie.

The school serves the district's southern end, and the 452 students that live in or around the neighborhoods nestled between Old Niskayuna and Albany Shaker roads.

The school first opened its doors on March 12, 1956.

"It's a musical and historical review celebrating the history of not just our school but our community," said Southgate Principal Kathy Meany. "We (Southgate) are really very special and different. Everyone has a 50th, we're having a 51st."

Southgate is not the oldest of the districts six elementary schools, said Meany. Southgate is the fourth oldest elementary school in North Colonie behind Blue Creek, Forts Ferry and Loudonville.

School staff had been planning Wednesday's event for months. Teachers and administrators worked to include the whole school in the celebration. Music teacher Karen Amedio and second grade teacher Regina Brown led the charge, said Meany.

"It's a huge undertaking," said Brown, who worked on getting the history of the area together. "I wrote the script using information I got from the town historian."

She worked with historians to track the area's history from its first American Indians, through Dutch settlers, British Colonial rule, to the American Revolution. Brown and Amedio put together a montage of period music to help get the message across.

Amedio put together a book of songs from Irish settlers, American Indian songs and the original "Erie Canal" song.

"They (the students) are practicing the songs on the school bus on the way to school," said Amedio. All the songs are about the areas the celebration makes mention of, she said.

The one-day crash course in more than 400 years of history wraps up with the industrialization of the area and shift that followed from farms to the suburban developments that now make up the area.

The school also used the celebration to raise funds to replace its dilapidated playground. The play area has been there for at least 20 years, said Amedio.""

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