One hundred and twenty years in the making

Tuxedo. A book chronicling the history of the Tuxedo Union Free School District, which opened in 1902, will be released this year.

| 31 Jan 2023 | 02:27

The Tuxedo Union Free School District was formed in 1902 by joining the several smaller districts within the Town of Tuxedo. One hundred and twenty years later, a book chronicling the history of the school district will be released this year.

Documenting the school’s history was the idea of School Board President Joe Rickard, who also serves as the book’s author and editor.

Collaborating on the project are school board member Kimberley Breiland, former board member Meg Vaught, as well Tuxedo Town Historian George Langberg.

“There was no full history of the school,” said Rickard during a recent visit to George F. Baker High School. “There is a phenomenal sports history here, the same with the extra curriculum. This is book will highlight it all.”

A memory bank filled to the brim

Superintendent Jeff White hosted Rickard, Breiland and Vaught at GFB last Friday for a photo shoot and meet and greet with former Tuxedo alumni and faculty.

Set up in a hallway behind the auditorium, Breiland photographed guests one by one, while those waiting their turn reminisced about their time in the district.

Photographed were alumni Sue Tuie Melillo Magurno, Jerry Magurno (former faculty), Timothy Tocher (former faculty), George Langberg, Betty Conklin Langberg and Mike Coviello.

With the arrival of each person came a memory bank filled to the brim with background and information. The Magurnos took it one step further, passing around a large bound photo book, filled with pictures and memories from their time as students.

‘Tuxedo was the team to beat’

With an ecstatic Rickard standing by, Breiland and Vaught thumbed through the pages, contemplating which photos to use. The group was then joined by current faculty members and coaches, Michelle Hines and Marco Margotta. Hines, also an alumna, brought her varsity letter jacket along.

Vaught says it has been “fascinating” reading the history of Tuxedo’s athletic program.

“Tuxedo was the team to beat. Hundreds of people would pack gymnasiums up and down the lower Hudson Valley to watch us compete, and the entire town got swept into it.”

Tuxedo Historical Society played an integral part

The town’s historical society has gotten swept up by the project. Betty Conklin Langberg, who is president, has played an integral part in providing subject matter, photos and information. Vaught says that the size of the school district was never mentioned as an issue by any of interview subjects, which she calls is “fantastic.”

“It really goes to show that collective interest, support and positive attitude from the community is a big part of the school’s success.”

Who were George F. Baker and George Grant Mason
The George F. Baker High School building is the real identifier of the district as that is what people see when they pass by on Route 17. In Rickard’s book, he details the history of the building:
In 1930, the district committed to building a new junior-senior high school. Doing so required the removal of more than a dozen buildings and relocation of streets.
The new George F. Baker High School was a joint gift of the late George F. Baker Sr. and George Grant Mason.
Baker was a leading banker, financier and philanthropist of the era who, along with philanthropist George Grant Mason, lived in Tuxedo Park.
The school was modeled after the Baker Library at The Harvard Business School.
Within the building’s foundation was placed a metal box containing, among other things, names of the members of the Board of Education, names and portraits of the donors, names of the building committee members, a history of the school, a pencil sketch of the old building and a list of the first graduating class in the new school.