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Berner Middle School: Making History for 50 Years

As the school celebrates its 50th anniversary it's past is on display.

The history of the is not a thing of the past, it's also part of it's day to day operation.

Alumni, faculty, staff and the public are invited to the official celebration of the school's 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday and will be invited to relive memories and tour the school.

Although Berner is in its current incarnation as a middle school,but there are remnants of the past throughout the school.

The school opened its doors on January 29, 1962, and current students spent a week learning about the different periods in the school's history this past January, according to Don Nobile, who is heading up Berner's anniversary committee.

"The original colors of the school were red and white," he said "So Monday of that week, the students and staff dressed in red and white. Friday, it was blue and gold.

"Each day there were homeroom announcements by various staff members talking about various different decades. We played music from different decades. There were balloons, posters and banners on the first floor."

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Among the links to Berner's past is a portrait of Alfred G.Berner himself, that hangs in an office. Berner was a longtime school board member and also served as school board president. He passed away before the school's completion.

The school was a welcome relief from overcrowding in an era of booming population. It started out as a junior high school, according to Nobile. In addition to serving students in grades 7 through 9, it also had 5th and 6th graders because the Unqua school was over crowded.

Prior to the creation of Berner, the existing junior high schools, Parkside, which is now the Ames campus of Massapequa High School, and McKenna, which is now a grammar school, were holding morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate crowds.

The afternoon students in those schools, moved over to Berner, Nobile said.

Ater serving grades 5 through 12, Berner became a high school only facility in 1967.

"It stayed that way for exactly 20 years." Nobile said. "In 1987, there was a realignment and Berner became 8th and 9th graders.You only had one High School MHS and that was 10 to 12."

In 1991 7th graders were brought over and finally in 199, 9th graders were moved to Ames. The name Junior High was dropped and it became a middle school.

A tour of the school shows many artifacts from Berner's incarnation. Some of them have been on display for the golden anniversary.

A red  mural in a first floor hallway reads "Berner High 1962 to 1987." But there's also a blue and gold Alfred G. Berner Middle School Banner. 

Display cases have an old school Berner Bison football jacket, a program from the 1978 football game between Berner and Massapequa High Schools. 

A prom photo of featuring Eileen De Marco of Berner's class of 1982 and her date for the evening Billy Baldwin of the class of 1982. De Marco went on to be part of the anniversary committee. We're chasing down reports that Baldwin chose an impoverished life as an actor. 

But some of pieces of history aren't in plain view. A red Bisons bumper sticker is still painted on a locker in a workroom used by the school's custodial staff. Also in that room, hangs a photo of Berner as it looked when it opened in 1962.

If you look closely at the photo, you can see a small tree that was planted at the time.

That tree is now fully grown. It stands outside the main entrance to the school and it's sprouted numerous branches. 

Imagine what it will look like in another five decades.

Massa May 12, 2012 at 01:22 PM
The old Massapequa vs Berner football games were great, but it is better now the way it is, Massapequa vs Farmingdale is better, we aren't the same town, so beating them makes it feel good. When we combined both schools back in 1988 we became a bigger and more feared school in sports and continue to be. To this day. In our first year, we lost to A very good Farmingdale team during the regular season, but played them in the playoffs and knocked them out. It is nice to see them having a anniversary for a good school like Berner, and letting the former alumni be a part of it is great.


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