Chalkboards to smartboards
School updates prompt a look back on history of the district’s schools
December 6, 2017
Once a lively, bustling hallway now resembles a ghost town of lockers and empty classrooms. Dust collects on the floors of the gym which once held sporting events. A humongous stack of report cards and records sits on a shelf, yellowing from age and exposure, a range of years from 1954 to 1961. The smell of mold and asbestos reeks from the ceiling.
Where would you find this ghastly scene?
The desolate, crestfallen high school building sits on the corner of Elizabeth Street, no longer harboring education-seeking, energetic teens.
On May 13, 1929, the vote finally passed to allow a fresh building to be created for high school students. The plan required $100,000 for the building, including a huge gymnasium. Construction concluded on November 14, 1930 according to former Stockbridge resident Phil Collins.
Graduating in the year of 1940, local historian Doreen White remembers what gave her joy.
“I had a good time” in high school, White said. “It used to be a really nice building. The inside looked really nice and so did the landscaping. A fountain used to be there too.”
Elizabeth Street school renovated
Then, in 1946, the school board approved a $3 million proposal for the purpose of expanding the building. In the fall of 1953, the shop and agriculture rooms added onto the south end of the school. In 1954, almost all of the one room school houses in the area needed construction and housed all of the grades kindergarten-12. The basement of the building, next to the boiler room and the gym were used as study halls and music rooms.
Graduate of 1962, Jean Bliss recalls she had to sit in the boiler rooms when in middle school.
“There wasn’t room until the addition of the gym,” Bliss said. “We had to have study hall in the basement in the old part of the school, it was simply running out of space because of the overflow of students.”
Richard C. Howlett building gets its groove
Because of the overpopulation of students, in 1972, a modern school building on Clinton Street would be constructed and finished by 1976 with a bond of $4.4 million; the building is still in use today and just recently had an update.
From the class of 1981, Stockbridge graduate Terry Wireman goes into detail of what the transition to the latest school had been like.
“I just remember there was a lot of orange, and it seemed like a really big school,” Wireman said. “We had new technology like electric typewriters and a few TVs for classrooms that played VHS tapes and could be wheeled around.”
New bond update for the millennium
In 2016 after a second attempt, voters passed a $19.8 million bond to add onto the 1976 part of the high school including updated rooms and technology. According to superintendent Karl Heidrich, the plans focused on building a gymnasium, sciences room and renewal of the bathrooms, stage and lockers. District wide technology and and safety improvements to secure entrances were added as well.
Junior Sammy Drew is very pleased by the equipment from the bond.
“The classrooms are way better with the new chairs and the new looks,” Drew said. “The booths, the TVs and the stage are really cool. The amount of people in the school because of the seventh and eighth graders being in here makes it seems crowded, but I think the new technology makes up for it.”
“That one building was it,” 1940 graduate Doreen White reminisces of where places were in the 1929 high school building. “You’d go in that front on Wood street, and to the right would be the first and second grade with Mrs. Smith as their teacher. Down farther to the right would be kindergarden and the art room and then across from that would be the gym. Then if you go upstairs, there’s smaller classrooms, a large study hall, and the office and you didn’t want to get sent to the office of course.” The wood street side of the old high school, picture taken in the spring of 1962. Photo Abbey Salyer.