John F. Kennedy Middle School pays tribute to namesake

Bethpage Jr. High School 8th graders Carl Pagluica, Bethpage Jr. High School 8th graders Carl Pagluica, left, and John Zinno unveil a plaque during the ceremony on January 20, 1964 when the school's name was changed to John F. Kennedy Junior High School. (Jan. 20, 1964) Photo Credit: Handout

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John F. Kennedy Middle School now has memorabilia sent from the late president's daughter, Caroline -- a copy of a page of the handwritten draft of Kennedy's inaugural address with that unforgettable line: "And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

Principal Kevin Fullerton said Friday the page will become part of the Bethpage school's permanent collection, along with a printed booklet of the speech that Caroline Kennedy had signed and sent.

Throughout the day, students at one of the nation's first schools named for JFK after his death turned the 50th anniversary of his assassination into a celebration of his life and times with a "museum" that included a model Lunar Excursion Module, newspapers from Nov. 22, 1963, and photographs of Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline.

Displays focused on the 35th president's accomplishments in foreign policy, civil rights, science and space exploration.

The middle school -- built in 1950 and called the Broadway Avenue School -- was dedicated to the late president on Nov. 26, 1963, the same day as a school in Butte, Mont. The renaming was the idea of then-Superintendent Charles H. Bryan and the district's board of education.