Did you know Chippewa was a junior high when it first opened in 1967?
Throughout 2018 we’ll be posting pieces about the history of our buildings. First up, Chippewa, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary!
Chippewa was erected in 1967 but not utilized as an elementary school until 1970. For those first few years, the building housed Sachem’s entire seventh grade on an interim basis while eighth graders attended Sagamore, then known as a junior high, and ninth graders attended Samoset.
The district was growing rapidly at the time. Overall enrollment was increasing and new buildings were being constructed.
Once the term “Sachem” was pinned as the name of the school district in 1955, administrators and board trustees aimed to name as many of the buildings after prominent Native American tribes or terms. Chippewa Indians, also known as the Ojibway, lived in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ontario.
By 1970, Dave Mello became principal of Chippewa, a position he held until 1985. For those counting, Pete Creedon was the principal of Chippewa in its earliest form as a seventh-grade building. Creedon is a Sachem legend and served as a teacher, coach and administrator for decades across multiple buildings.
The main road leading up to the school was named David Mello Drive in his honor.
Dr. John Cassese, one of Sachem’s first alumni hired to teach at his alma mater, took over as principal in 1985 and served in that position until 1995. Following Dr. Cassese as principals were Ms. Pontius and Ms. Aubrey, who currently leads the building.
“I believe children were well served, thanks to a great staff and a wonderful community of parents,” said Dr. Cassese, who was inducted to Sachem’s Hall of Honor in 2017. “Being principal at Chippewa was a fulfilling experience because I got to see children blossom and learn all the way from kindergarten to grade six. I got to know them well. It was definitely a special time in my professional career.”
In the fall, there was a celebration at the school to recognize its 50th anniversary. Current and former administrators, as well as students and staff, took part in the festivities.
-Words by Chris R. Vaccaro