Washington School to Celebrate 100 Years
Friday, April 20, 2012 • 1:01pm
Washington Elementary School will celebrate its 100th Anniversary throughout the 2012-13 school year. This year-long celebration, Washingtennial, will include opportunities for students to learn about the school’s history. Parent volunteers, with assistance from the Summit Historical Society, the Summit Free Public Library, the Board of Education, Central Presbyterian Church, and the librarians at Washington School, have been conducting research over the past several months. Principal Lauren Banker, along with Washington School teachers, will use the research to create special history lessons to be taught at each grade level.
The research to date has revealed many interesting facts about the school and its neighborhood. Washington School replaced the North Summit School that was located in a dwelling known as the “Edwards House” on a site across the street from the existing Merck campus. The new building was constructed during 1912 at a cost of $27,000 and opened its doors on Wednesday March 25, 1913. The original school contained 4 classrooms, a teachers' room, a medical inspector's room, and showers in the basement. The 4th and 5th graders were taught in the same room by the school principal, Mr. Charles Brown. Mrs. Orr, Miss Day, and Miss Miller taught 3rd, 2nd and 1st grade, respectively. The Neighborhood House, currently the Summit Antiques Center, housed a kindergarten. The Neighborhood House also served as a Community Center to gather the multicultural population that lived in North summit at the time. A 1913 newspaper article announcing the school’s opening read, “... splendid building, well-located, and it can be enlarged when necessary ...” Indeed, the building has had many improvements and renovations over the years. Additional classrooms, a playground, a library, a cafeteria, and several beautiful gardens cultivated by the students, help the school to remain a splendid place.
Since its dedication, Washington School has been directed by 7 principals. Mr. J. Bradley Hoff stayed the longest as he worked at the school for 30 years (1942-1970) and Mr. Gast served as principal twice (1939-1942 and 1970-1974.) The school community maintains many traditional activities such as the Country Fair, Field Day, and a Book Fair, among others. Mr. Kelly's sixth grade class in 1966 inaugurated a tradition at Washington School: the time capsule. The class prepared a box with articles from that time and put it in a classroom closet. The box remained closed for several years until 1992, when it was found after an exhaustive search of the school that even involved help from several members of Mr. Kelly's family! Another time capsule was buried in 1992 in front of the school. Next year, the 1992 time capsule will be opened and a new one will be buried in honor of the centennial.
The Washingtennial Committee is seeking former students and teachers who were part of the previous time capsules' ceremonies. Also, we invite all members of the community to share their memories, funny stories, and/or pictures of Washington School and the neighborhood. Those who would like to become a part of this very special celebration can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maureen Alvidrez and Patricia Fontan for the Washingtennial Committee