Niagara Gazette

Columns

October 14, 2013

HIGGS: Beech Avenue School and city integration

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Now on to Beech Avenue School located at 1800 Beech Ave. near the “big blue water tower” east of Highland Avenue. This elementary school was opened in 1958 and became part of the focus of the desegregation program where much of its history is centered. The school was designed by the architectural firm of Sargent, Webster, Crenchaw and Folley of Syracuse. A one-story building with 12 classrooms, an auditorium, gymnasium and pool, it cost $910,963.78 which included land costs, building and equipment. An additional eight classrooms were added in 1958.

Henry J. Kalfas was appointed the first principal. Henry, more commonly known as Hank, was well-known and well-loved as he served in various capacities in Niagara Falls.

Following his service as principal at Beech Avenue School he was appointed superintendent of schools in January of 1969. A new career came after his formal retirement from the school district as he joined the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce as CEO which eventually led to his final working career as executive director of the S.P.U.R. an arm of the chamber. Hank, as we all knew him was considered the founder of the Festival of Lights as he journeyed to Simcoe, Ont., and came home with plans to light up the downtown of Niagara Falls. I volunteered each year of the Festival greeting visitors at the Wintergarden and coordinating the annual silent auction.

Following his appointment as superintendent in January 1969, an advisory committee was formed to study and implement a plan to desegregate the school. Integration was slow to happen and Beech Avenue School was still a predominantly black population in 1969. The plan was full integration by September of that year according to numerous articles on this subject in the Niagara Gazette. Voluntary busing was suggested by means of a questionnaire to parents to be returned in February if they were willing to transfer their elementary student to Beech Avenue at the start of the September 1969-70 school year. During July, 150 students were volunteered and during August 1969, 132 white students were registered under the voluntary program and evenly distributed through the kindergarten and sixth grades. The remaining 18 students were enrolled in the Informal Class. I do not mean to make this sound like it was easy but space limits the long back and forth discussions and some arguments among the advisory committee and the board of education members during the year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: A cupcake gets the Niagara Beautification Commission spotlight Not a cupcake per se, but a cute shop in LaSalle operated by a "sweet" lady who is a real dynamo when it comes to running a business.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug [Duplicate] GLYNN: A key factor in luring the convention A natural wonder in the nation's oldest state park isn't the lone factor for selecting Niagara Falls as a convention site.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SINGER: Regional poetry and sad realities If that isn't (or wasn't) poetry, I don't know what is! I'm referring to the self-satisfied, sluggish trot of ice chunks emanating from Lake Erie in early May 2014 -- sauntering, it felt, along the lovely Niagara.

    July 27, 2014

  • NIA Smith, Doug and Polly LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Quest for an appointment comes up short We're rolling up our sleeves for Quest. The Big Mac of blood tests, the Tops of tourniquets, the Sears of screenings, opens on our Island at Monday's crack of dawn.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Davis, Vincent mug VINCENT DAVIS: Pledge your allegiance to the Slurpee, America's treat By now you must be aware that it is, in fact, summer. And since summer is a season not characterized by any obvious weather events (sometimes it's hot for days in a row, sometimes you get a bunch of rainy days and chilly nights) but instead activities, I'd like to bring attention to an underrated staple of summer sun enjoyment: Consuming the brain freeze-inducing snack classic, the Slurpee.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Hamilton, Ken mug HAMILTON: Popeye's '7-Minute' guide to educating southerners -- and me! Writer Mark Twain said that when he 14, his father was so ignorant that he could hardly stand to have the old man around. But upon turning 21, Twain said that he was astonished by how much his father had learned in just seven years.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA DeLuca, Michele mug DELUCA: Wegmans call warns of bad fruit I was humming to myself the other day, getting ready for work on a lovely summer morning, when I decided to check my messages on the house phone. I hit the play button and heard a message from Wegmans warning me about some fruit that I had bought at their store. As quick as that, a message with the scary potential to change my life or the life of someone I love.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Ortt jumps on drive to repeal the SAFE Act It was a no-brainer for North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, a Republican candidate for the 62nd Senate District seat, to join the forces to repeal the state's SAFE Act.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Verplank: Turn back the clock at the Porter Cup

    July 24, 2014

  • NIA Bradberry, Bill mug BRADBERRY: Tourists attracted here by history, beauty, politics As my friend and colleague, writer Don Glynn has so artfully portrayed over the decades, "For many years after the dawn of aviation, U.S. presidents visiting Western New York started at the Niagara Falls Airport. The reason: The main runway here was longer than that of the Buffalo airport and could easily accommodate Air Force One, the presidential aircraft."

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page