SCRANTON — Only five months after JFK’s assassination, in March of 1964, a crowd of hundreds was on Prospect Avenue in Scranton for the dedication of John F. Kennedy Elementary. It is believed to be the first school in the country named after JFK.
Students at John F. Kennedy Elementary in south Scranton pass by his picture every morning on their way to class, but may not know the whole story of why it’s hanging there.
At a ceremony on Friday morning, fifth grade students shared their voices with patriotic songs. Adults shared stories from decades before the kids were born.
The program was organized by Lackawanna County Commissioner Patrick O’Malley to remember the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.
The lobby of elementary school was an appropriate setting, O’Malley thought, since it’s believed to be the first school named in Kennedy’s memory.
“Well that means a lot because it keeps him in everyone’s memory so we never forget him,” said fifth grader Layla Kolodzieski.
The point wasn’t lost on the students who have been learning about their school’s namesake and why he’s still revered 50 years after his death.
“John F. Kennedy was a very special president and he did a lot to help our country,” added student Charlene Dixon.
Scranton School Superintendent Bill King brought along the minutes from the meeting when school directors decided on the name change in 1963, just four days after Kennedy’s assassination. It was dedicated five months later. Bobby Kennedy came in for the event.
Retired fifth grade teacher Marie Robson of Scranton was there too.
“We were all very sad because it took a long long time for people who met him, or had seen him, or lived during that era to forget about the events of November 22nd,” Robson said.