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Hopkins Academy 350th celebration in the works

— As this academic year nears its conclusion, planning is already underway for celebrating the next academic year that will mark the 350th anniversary of one of the oldest public schools in the United States.

A large sign is expected to go up on a fence outside Hopkins Academy Friday asking the public to join in the celebration as the Hopkins 350th Committee begins raising awareness and soliciting financial help.

Joseph Pelis, chairman of the Hopkins 350th Committee, said Thursday that as organizers begin filling out a schedule of events, including a golf tournament and dinner and dance in September, money is needed to accomplish some of the goals.

“We’re still basically in the fundraising phase,” Pelis said.

The sign will feature the committee’s website, hopkinsacademy350.org

The first appeal for money is to produce a DVD that will be a documentary on the history of Hopkins. Pelis said the idea is to relate Hopkins to the educational process in America since 1664.

Pelis estimates that this will cost $30,000 to produce in the professional way envisioned by members of the committee.

“We’re hoping some of the businesses will come through for that and the trustees of Hopkins Academy would give us some backing,” Pelis said.

The second appeal is to create an endowment that the public schools could dip into for activities that supplement the regular education. Pelis said the idea is to establish The 308 Club, named after the 308 pounds of money that were set aside by Edward Hopkins for the school’s founding.

The golf tournament is scheduled for Sept. 15 and a kick off dinner and dance, with a performance by Eddie Forman, will be held at the American Legion on Route 9 Sept. 21.

In January or February, an alumni recognition event will be held to honor former students, including some who didn’t graduate because they were called into military service.

Memorial Day weekend 2014 will feature Hopkins Academy Day May 24 in which tours of the school will be given and old photographs will be displayed, and particpation in the town’s annual parade.

Hopkins Academy Park is also on the drawing board, where people can purchase bricks that will be inscribed to memorialize or recognize people. This will incorporate an existing memorial stone to the old Hopkins building.

Other activities being considered include a road race, a car show and an antique tractor show, and the committee hopes to work with current students on some additional endeavors, perhaps partnering with a sister school in Connecticut that Hopkins also had a hand in founding.

“The key to all this is money,” Pelis said. “We’re hoping people will recognize we need funding for these events.”

Anyone wishing to make contributions can send them to Hopkins Academy 350th Celebration, in care of Robert Fil, 64 South St., unit 1, Easthampton, 01027.

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