Happy birthday, Rochester!

Jun 4, 2019

ROCHESTER — How do students wish a town happy birthday? With cake, birthday cards and a history tour, of course. 

Third grade students from Rochester Memorial School celebrated the town of Rochester turning 340 on June 4 with a special field trip.

The trip’s organizer and former Rochester Memorial teacher, Carol Hardy, served as a tour guide for students as they rode through town on a school bus. Hardy called out “happy birthday” as they arrived at various landmarks. Students and teachers responded to her call with “Rochester 340,” before listening to Hardy’s stories based on information provided by the late historian Judith Gurney.

Hardy said that the school picked third graders for the field trip because town history is part of the Massachusetts state curriculum for their year. The field trip was part of the fourth grade curriculum each year when she was a teacher from 1975 to 2006. Hardy said the 340 year anniversary was a good chance to bring back the tradition.

“350 is coming up, and if we educate the kids every year by the time it comes up, we should be able to put on a fantastic celebration for the town,” she said.

Students stopped at the Rochester Senior Center for the sweet part of the celebration at 12:30 p.m., scarfing down a cake with “Happy Birthday Rochester 340” written in icing on it, and singing “Happy Birthday” to the town.

Students then boarded the buses again for the second half of the field trip.They made a stop at the Rochester Town Green, where Hardy continued her history lesson at the site of the first recorded Town Hall in Rochester.

Rochester was considered for the capital of Massachusetts due to its role in the shipbuilding and whaling industries, Hardy said. Boston was eventually chosen for its more central location, but Hardy asked students and teachers to imagine how different the two places would be today if Rochester was chosen.

Students returned to their school at about 2:15 p.m., having learned something about their town. 

Hardy said that this event is part of the Rochester Council on Aging’s effort to become a multigenerational community center. Funding was provided by a grant from Greater New Bedford United Way, the Rochester Lions Club and an anonymous donor. It was organized by members of the Friends of the Rochester Senior Center, Inc.