JFK: First School to be Named after 35th President

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY - All this week 2 On Your Side has been sharing stories of President John F. Kennedy's connections to Western New York as we mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

On Thursday, Pete Gallivan told us about JFK High School in Cheektowaga, and its several unusual links to the president, and his death …

In the Cheektowaga Sloan District sits a school, distinguished by three letters.

"We are the first school to be named after John F. Kennedy in the nation," says JFK High School Principal Kevin Kazmierczak.

It is in fact the first school in the country to be named after any sitting president. The school opened in 1962, and had a brush with greatness in the months before its official opening.

President Kennedy visited Buffalo in October of that year, riding in the Pulaski Day Parade, before speaking to an estimated crowd of 400,000 people on the steps of City Hall.

It was a day that would see celebration quickly turn to tension.

Right after the speech the president was whisked inside of City Hall and told, "Mr. President, we have a problem in Cuba."

A problem that had the potential to escalate into nuclear war.

"As he was travelling back to the airport, I think it was Thaddeus Dulski, our congressman at the time, who said, 'Let's show the president the school that's going to be named after him,'" said Kazmierczak

Although there is no documentation of the side trip, it is believed that President Kennedy's motorcade took him down Cayuga Creek Road, giving him his first and only glimpse of the future JFK High School.

But another Kennedy connection was discovered 25 years after that, by custodians cleaning behind a radiator. It was a simple typed invitation for a dance at the school.

The date of the dance turned out to be one of the darkest days in American history … November 22nd, 1963.

The dance was cancelled, only to be remembered decades later through a stained, crumpled piece of one of the Unknown Stories of Western New York.

Friday morning on Daybreak we bring you the the story of how a TV episode featuring Niagara Falls was never shown to a national audience ... because the show's plot had too many comparisons to what happened in Dallas.


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