Niagara Gazette

Opinion

April 22, 2013

HIGGS: A lesson in Falls junior high schools

Niagara Gazette — According to my reference material “School Bells Ring” compiled and written by Patricia Wilson Rice in 1991, in conjunction with the city of Niagara Falls Centennial Committee, a study was undertaken during 1919-20 to determine building needs for the future. Yes, even in those days “studies” were determined to be a necessary tool in planning.

The study, “A Report of the Survey of the Niagara Falls School System,” revealed that “the school population is growing far more rapidly than the school plant. School accommodations are not keeping pace with the rapidly increasing registration.” It was also determined that “The pupils in the higher grades, particularly those in the seventh and eight years are mostly crowded into the two oldest buildings in the city, the Fifth Street and Cleveland Avenue Schools.” It continued to discuss “the need for differentiated courses of instruction in the higher grades” cannot be met in these two buildings.

The survey recommended two or three intermediate schools “which would provide space; also, for the ninth grade, or first year high school pupils and in part, this would relieve the pressure in the high school building.” With that determination the idea of intermediate schools was conceived and departmental teaching rather than class teaching was also introduced for these grades. Adequate library facilities with supervision, suitable laboratories for science work, an auditorium for school and community purposes and the already introduced gymnasium and swimming pool were all to be integral parts of these buildings.

Vocational education which was then called an opportunity where “a boy or girl may learn something of the arts which play such a large part in the daily life was even in the thought process during these times and thought was given to industrial arts, such as mechanical drawing, woodworking and sheet metal work, printing, general homemaking courses including cooking and sewing.

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