Niagara Gazette

Columns

April 29, 2013

HIGGS: Past personal connections and two connected schools

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The new Cleveland Avenue School was completed in 1925 and was ready for occupancy. This allowed North Junior to become the intermediate junior high school it was planned for. Miss Frances C, Hickox was the first principal and Helen Knapp was vice-principal. They remained at the helm, serving together until June 1942 when they both retired.

North Junior was a three-story brick building with 45 classrooms, an auditorium, gymnasium and swimming pool like its sister in the south end of the city which opened in 1924. The total cost of this facility was $871,473.26 which included the land, building and equipment.

I attended this school in the early 1950s and as I recall we were segregated into classes based on our aptitude and former grades. The 7th grade was divided into groups such as 7-1, 7-2, 7-3 and so on with the smart ones in the lower numbers. I was placed in 7-1 (who would guess?) and we were given the opportunity to study four foreign language sessions to see if we would be interested in following up with a full four-year course of study. We had 10 weeks each of French, German, Spanish and Latin and when I entered the ninth grade I chose French which in actuality helped me immensely in grammar as my English teacher in the junior high loved literature and poetry so conjugating verbs was not my thing.

Not sure what they do today but I remember being taught the basics about a healthy lifestyle, learning how to plan and prepare a simple meal and some sewing and ironing. Do they teach this today? The boys learned the basic health (but separately) and had some mechanical courses as well as the reading, writing and arithmetic everyone had to study.

I do not recall who the principal was during my years at North Junior, but later in April 1976 the school celebrated its 50th anniversary. There were tours and displays of the early years. Our former mayor, Michael C. O’Laughlin was principal during this time. The Board of Education voted to close the school in 1982 and Anthony J. DiChiara was the last principal. The building was sold to MAC Associates, was never redeveloped and was demolished.

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