CHEEKTOWAGA – The Cheektowaga Central School District honored ten families who were instrumental in saving extra-curricular activities forty years ago as they celebrated the opening of their new $2.8 million multi-use sports facility Friday evening.
The stadium is named after the leader of the group of concerned parents, Gerald J. Hickson. Superintendent Mary Morris says he and other families each contributed $1,500 in 1978 to save sports and other extracurricular activities after the school budget was voted down.
“They worked tirelessly for those two years to fundraise and to help support sports and to get the budget passed. It kind of changed the whole face of Cheektowaga. Parents were determined to do all that they could for their families,” said Ms. Morris.
Brian Hickson is the Director of Athletics at Cheektowaga Central and is the son of Gerald Hickson. He says it’s humbling for his family to have the stadium named after his dad.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is that I feel like it was unnecessary – like we’re not worthy in a sense. My dad loved this school, loved it, and donated a lot of his time to the children,” Mr. Hickson said.
He says he was around 11-years-old when his father would hold meetings at his house. His father was very energetic in motivating the parents to support the school, its extracurricular activities, and its students. The elder Hickson, who went on to be a school board member, passed away in 2011.
“I feel that the energy they created back then has not ceased to exist,” added Mr. Hickson. “It goes beyond sports. It’s anything that’s extracurricular. We have so many students that have talents outside of the classroom and without an opportunity for them to develop those talents and build relationships I feel they would be a little empty.”
The story of the ten families came to light recently when longtime school board member Raymond Carr dropped off a box of historical papers to Ms. Morris. She approached the school board, and they thought it was a fitting tribute to name the stadium after the late Mr. Hickson.
The new stadium is apart of a $24.8 million bond measure passed in 2016. The state-of-the-art, multi-use sports stadium is home to the school’s football, soccer, baseball, and softball teams. It replaces the 30-year-old natural turf field in the rear of the school complex.
“It’s been long overdue, to be honest, but I’m really excited for our community and our kids that we serve now. Super happy for them,” added Mr. Hickson.
The next phase of the project will bring improvements to the high school auditorium, high school classrooms, and stadium parking. Additional lanes will be added to the running track to allow the school to host track and field events.
A research project was conducted to track down and bring the ten families together forty years later to celebrate the new complex. A party before the start of the game was sponsored by the stadium project’s architect, construction company, attorney, and banker.
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