Sewickley Academy has a rich history -- 175 years' worth.
And in honor of that past, the school in Sewickley will be kicking off a yearlong celebration Friday with Founder's Day.
This past is important for both the students of today and the community, said Kolia O'Connor, head of school.
"As we educate our students, they need firm grounding on where they came from not only in our country and our state, but in our school as well," he said.
Susan Sour, who has a 60-year history with the school as an alumna, employee and chairwoman of the event planning committee, said the facility has grown from a small, neighborhood school to one with 720 students in pre-K through 12th grade hailing from all over the greater Pittsburgh area.
Mrs. Sour said 18 members of her family have attended Sewickley Academy, and she remembers many of the school's important events, including the fire in 1970 that destroyed much of the building but not the spirit of the academy.
"I remember watching as the cupola fell intact straight into the fire. The crowd just gasped as it fell in," she said, "But the school and community came together and parents formed a brigade, handing out things from one person to another and they carted them off to safety."
Mandi Semple, director of community and media relations, said classes continued in various locations around Sewickley after the fire until the school could be rebuilt.
The resilience and community spirit of the school is one of the things they will be celebrating at the anniversary events, she said.
The weekend-long Founder's Day celebration, which will start with a day of events and contests for the students and include a school-wide photo with half of the student body and faculty wearing red T-shirts and the rest wearing black T-shirts (the school colors), Ms. Semple said.
Among the activities will be an anniversary concert at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Rea Auditorium featuring the inaugural performance of "Sweetwater Anthem" by Sewickley Academy alumni, students, and faculty.
Other featured performers will be folk/acoustic duo Guy Russo '06 and Morgan Erina in the band Broken Fences, classical pianists David Harrison '96 and Elyse Scott '09, vocalist Christopher Nickell '08, and the academy orchestra, band and chorus.
There will be trivia contests about the school's history and water games to commemorate the fire and relive how the school community banded together.
"It's a time for us to celebrate our history and past and to celebrate our place in the community," said Mr. O'Connor, "From the youngest of our students, to the oldest of our alumni, it is a time for celebration."
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: email@example.com.