Niagara Gazette


September 16, 2013

HIGGS: New education uses for LaSalle schools


Niagara Gazette — The LaSalle Junior-Senior High School located at 7436 Buffalo Ave. near 76th Street satisfied the need for a junior high school which became obvious by 1929. Previously, LaSalle students went to Niagara Falls High School. This is a three-story brick building with 53 classrooms, a gymnasium and pool. The acclaimed feature of this school is the auditorium which is noted as acoustically perfect and comes with a complete stage. The cafeteria is located in the rear of the building. The junior high school was open for business in September 1931 and formerly dedicated on Feb. 5, 1932. Clark J. Peet was the first principal at an annual salary of $4,300.00. The land was purchased from the Niagara Power Company for $75,000, cost of construction was $704,807.78 and equipment was $74,065.78. You do the math, remember school is officially open now.

Later on it was decided to include seniors as it was costly to transport them to Niagara Falls High School downtown and it became a combination junior and senior school. The first senior class graduated in 1935 with 65 students who had entered LaSalle in 1931 as ninth-graders. As I mentioned previously, population exploded in LaSalle following WWII and the school was soon overcrowded. Plans were moved ahead to building a new senior high school as soon as possible.

The last principal serving the combination junior and senior high school was Elton C. Schwinger who moved on to the new LaSalle Senior High School when it opened March 25, 1957. Peter R. Gugino became the new principal at the LaSalle Junior High School. Later the school reopened as a middle school and Robert DiFrancesco was the principal. It is now called the LaSalle Preparatory School and James Spanbauer is the principal.

Bobby ā€œDā€ left the local school system after serving in various capacities in various schools and became the principal of Niagara Catholic High School in 2003. He had attended school in this building which was the former Bishop Duffy High School. He recently retired to a life without school bells as reported in the March 10 edition of the Niagara Gazette after serving 40 years in the local school systems. Speaking of school bells, they will be ringing for me soon as class is over for the week.

Norma Higgs serves with the Niagara Beautification Commission and Niagara Falls Block Club Council.

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