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MacDuffie School celebrates over a century of education

Date: 10/27/2010

Oct. 27, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- The MacDuffie family legacy and all those who've supported their efforts to provide quality college-preparatory education at the MacDuffie School were honored at the institution's 120th anniversary celebration on Oct. 22.

MacDuffie graduate and Black Entertainment Television correspondent April Woodward emceed the event, which recognized several of the school's benefactors, supporters and alumni at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History.

"Today reminds me of all the things I learned at MacDuffie. I learned to be resourceful ... a woman who was never afraid to voice my opinion or to be afraid of anyone or anything," Woodward said. "This is a learning ground for everyone and prepares you for the real world. What I took from it was a wonderful experience."

Interim Head of School Thomas Addicks said, "The MacDuffie School, a co-educational preparatory school, continues its legacy of excellence as its founders expected. The guidance and support provided by the MacDuffie, Rutenber, and Sadowsky families coupled with our past and present families has been instrumental in continuing this legacy of excellence spanning 120 years."

The MacDuffie family, decendants of John and Abby MacDuffie, the school's founders were honored with the school's Historic Impact Award, along with benefactors and supports including the Sadowsky family, Ralph and Cleminette Rutenber, Heriberto Flores and MassMutual.

Presenting the award to the Sadowsky family, Kathryn Gibson, former head of the MacDuffie School, explained, "In the 1980s and '90s girl schools were falling out of favor and MacDuffie fell on hard times. The school needed an angel to keep the doors open and William Sadowsky made the school's largest donation ... Thank you for your father's pivotal impact on MacDuffie's history."

Gibson noted the family never sought recognition for their tremendous contribution, only agreeing to have the school's library named after them.

Flores, president of Partners for Community, along with representatives from MassMutual, each accepted awards for sponsoring scholarship programs at the MacDuffie School. Flores provided funds for Latino student scholarships, while MassMutual was lauded for its private high school scholarship program.

"You took a bigger risk than I did," Flores told MacDuffie educators. "These people took a chance on the Spanish community, a community with a 40 percent dropout rate. Those kids brought culture to Springfield and to the school. All I did was provide the money but you provided the time, talent and education for the kids ... We have a great future in this city."

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