Region 16 celebrates golden milestone

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PROSPECT — When Priscilla Cretella moved to Beacon Falls, there was talk about dissolving the regional school district the town formed with Prospect.

Rather than join a committee that was formed to discuss disbanding the school district, Cretella chose to run for the Region 16 Board of Education. Thirty-four years later, she’s still serving on the school board as its vice chair.

“I truly believe, and believe it to this day, that if you work together, you’ll make something stronger,” said Cretella as she addressed a crowd of local officials, students, parents and staff members Friday at Long River Middle School.

Officials — past and present — and members of the community came together at the middle school for a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Region 16, which was formed in 1969.

Like any relationship that has spanned decades, there were some growing pains.

“We had our differences between the towns,” school board Chair Robert Hiscox recalled.

There were several attempts over the years to dissolve the region. There were also several failed efforts to build a high school for the region before Woodland Regional High School opened in the early 2000s.

At one point, Beacon Falls and Prospect students went to 17 different high schools in the area, Cretella said.

Now, Hiscox said, the region enjoys a complete K-12 educational system with two elementary schools, a middle school and high school.

“We’ve learned from our past and we’ve grown into one of the finest regional school districts in the state,” Hiscox said.