FOR RELEASE: IMMEDIATE October 19, 2016
Helen Sperling Dedication
Admirers of human rights advocate Helen Sperling filled Ralph Perry Junior High School’s Large Group Instruction room the evening of October 18, 2016. The occasion marked the dedication of the facility in honor of Sperling, a noted Holocaust survivor and long-time friend of the New Hartford Central School family. Those in attendance joined Board of Education President Paul Piotrowski, members of the Board of Education, and Superintendent Robert Nole for a ribbon cutting ceremony and refreshments.
Also in attendance was New York State Assembly member Claudia Tenney, who presented the school with an official Assembly citation to honor the event. Tenney noted that generations of New Hartford students--herself included--were among the many thousands of Central New Yorkers deeply affected by Sperling’s story of survival and sage advice, “Don’t be a bystander.” Sperling passed away in 2015.
Perry Junior High acting principal and long-time friend of the Sperling family, Richard Hunt, hosted the event. Hunt welcomed Paul Sperling, Helen Sperling’s son, a New Hartford graduate who graciously thanked the audience for continuing his mother’s legacy. Hunt also recognized many of the New Hartford students and teachers who had worked with Sperling to reach her audience, including retired New Hartford English teacher Jerry Pitarresi, who had served as Sperling’s event planner, New Hartford Senior High Social Studies teacher Suzie Hamilton, a long-time friend and collaborator with Sperling, and Allen Christman, a Perry Jr. High Global Studies teacher who had initiated the dedication of the large group instruction room in Sperling’s honor. Students in the audience, including past recipients of the school’s “Helen Sperling Award,” were recognized as the embodiment of the hope and faith that Sperling had for youngsters to change the world for the better.
An instructional space since the junior high’s inception, the newly-named “Helen Sperling Large Group Instruction Room” has been recently renovated to incorporate a key motif of Helen Sperling’s life: her love of lilac trees, which were her family’s prize possession before the Nazi occupation of her home.
Robert J. Nole
Robert J. Nole
Superintendent of Schools