District to mark RFA’s 150th annual commencement

Plans include ‘digitizing every yearbook we have in existence,’ says superintendent


Rome Free Academy will hold its 150th annual commencement in June, and the Rome school district is eyeing some special steps to mark the occasion.

The upcoming milestone was cited by district Superintendent Peter C. Blake at the Board of Education meeting last week.

The district is working in conjunction with Jervis Public Library and the Rome Historical Society to seek to “digitize every yearbook we have in existence,” Blake said.

Noting it will “be very cool,” he said any resident would be able to access digitized files of yearbooks.

The “celebration of the 150th year” will be marked with various postings on the school district’s website as part of the observance, the Rome
Superintendent remarked.

With the Rome Free Academy name having been established in 1869, Blake commented that RFA’s long history is kind of hard to conceptualize in comparison to many other high schools that do not date back as far.

RFA has “almost a whole century in advance” of some schools, he added.

RFA’s commencement ceremony for the graduation of its class of 2019 is scheduled for June 29 at 10 a.m. at RFA Stadium.

The predecessor of RFA was the Rome Academy, which dates back to the 1840s and was a privately owned school that charged tuition, according to Daily Sentinel archives.

In 1869 a union free school district with a Board of Education was created, and the word “free” was added to the school’s title.

Rome Free Academy started in 1870 with an enrollment of 97. Last June, about 345 students graduated from RFA.

Graduating classes at one time were significantly larger than that, totaling in the range of 600 or more for various years such as in the 1970s among the examples.

The sizes were affected by overall local population declines since then.

RFA’s history has included three locations.

It originally was at the corner of James and Court streets, where the Rome Police Department and Rome City Court building now stands.

In 1926 a new RFA building opened on Turin Street. That site was used until 2002, when it was replaced by a newly constructed RFA building that opened at Griffiss park.

The former Turin Street location, now mostly vacant land after much of the school building was demolished about 10 years ago, is adjacent to RFA Stadium.


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