100 years of learning celebrated at Newbridge Road School


Newbridge Road School, in the North Bellmore School District, is at the center of a thriving community. Regardless of which elementary school North Bellmore students attend, the principles and values that make the district what it is all trace their roots to Newbridge.

The school’s dedication to children’s education was abundantly clear at its centennial celebration last Friday. The event united generations of community members who are all connected to Newbridge Road in one way or another — whether they were students, teachers or former administrators.

The daylong celebration kicked off with a student parade around the outside of the school. Students wore 100th-anniversary shirts, courtesy of the school’s Parent Teacher Association, and birthday hats that they decorated themselves. After the parade, they crowded together to form a giant 100 on the pavement, and shouted in unison, “Happy Birthday Newbridge!”

One hundred years of learning is hard to wrap your head around, Principal Amanda Licci said, but the reason why the school has remained a focal point in the district for so long is simple: the children it serves.

“We’re a community, not just a school building,” Licci said. “What makes us a community besides locality?

“While uncovering the rich history of this building, and the other buildings that have stood on these grounds, it became clear that this school has been, and will remain, a cornerstone in North Bellmore,” she added. “It’s pretty incredible to imagine how many people that have been here over the course of 100 years. It is an honor and my pleasure to be one of those people, as we acknowledge 100 years of Newbridge’s past, and to look out into a community of people that will carry Newbridge into the future.”

Licci introduced the students to three of the school’s former principals, Richard Benson, Marilyn Hirschfield and Denise Fisher, who were invited to the celebration. District administrators and dozens of alumni who have made notable contributions to Bellmore and beyond were also on hand for the opening ceremony, an assembly that followed, and other activities throughout the day.

State Sen. Steve Rhoads and Hempstead Town Clerk Kate Murray presented district administrators with citations during the opening ceremony. County Legislator Seth Koslow stopped by later in the day, and took part in a through-the-decades dance party with students.

North Bellmore Superintendent Marie Testa attended kindergarten at Newbridge Road, she said, and spent many of her formative years in the community.

“North Bellmore is a community that resides within the hearts of my family,” Testa said, “and I know it resides in the hearts of all the administrators, past and present, the Board of Education, the leaders in the community, our amazing faculty and staff, who put this day together, and our students and our families. Community isn’t something you’re just part of. Community is something that resides in you. And I know how special North Bellmore is.”

She went on to say that Italy has the Leaning Tower of Pisa, France has the Eiffel Tower and Montauk has its lighthouse — but North Bellmore has Newbridge Road School.

The building has had its share of upgrades and renovations through the years to keep it up and running, and Testa thanked the school board for its unwavering support in seeing those projects through.

“I am so proud to be here today,” she said. “Thank you to our community for looking to Newbridge as a beacon of hope for the future.”

Nina Lanci, vice president of the school board, called Newbridge Road “a landmark” in the community. Through the years, she said, she and other board members have worked hard to keep the school open, flourishing, and safe for students.

“It was very important for us to preserve Newbridge Road School,” Lanci said. “New isn’t better — this is better. A hundred years of history.”

After the morning’s activities, students got a chance to explore Centennial Hall, a “museum” created in the gym, featuring artifacts and photos. After classes ended, it was opened to district families.

Throughout the day, whether students were learning about the anniversary in class or touring the school’s new Centennial Native Garden, created by technology teacher Michael Bevilacqua, there was an air of excitement throughout the school.

“We want to keep the life in the building, and it is a community,” Lanci said. “This is a community centerpiece. And we’re going to keep it going and thriving.”