Updated: Dec 1, 2022
Center School Kindergarten (undated)
One look at this busy classroom scene evokes memories of past Decembers when teachers and students alike counted the days until a well-deserved holiday break to celebrate the season and the beginning of a new year! Such a festive time! As the town's population has grown over the past century, children from families of many faiths and cultures have brought their customs into classrooms to share with their teachers and classmates. This image, likely a kindergarten, was captured in a classroom in the earlier years of the Center School building that still stands on the green today. Hard to say exactly when this photo was taken, but the new school building opened to students on September 3, 1929. Kindergarten was still optional, and a largely new occurrence in public schools. Parents in town were increasingly interested in giving their children a headstart on formal schooling, though. Converse Street School converted one of its classrooms to a kindergarten around this time with success. Norway Street School was too crowded for one, but parents were invited to send their children to the new Center School if they chose. Miss Lorraine W. Benner was hired to teach the new Center School kindergarten at an annual salary of $1450. Her classroom had 25 students. Perhaps she and her students were better off than the 3rd-grade classroom that held 39 students that year!
Per the 1929 Annual Town Report: “The building committee and the superintendent of schools spent much time studying modern features of school equipment. They decided to use movable chairs and tables in the three lower grades as well as in the kindergarten. The upper grades were equipped with the usual fixed desks but with swivel chairs. On September 3, nine rooms were occupied, six by the regular grades and one by the kindergarten. The layout of the finished building stands as follows: an auditorium with stage, 12 classrooms (including kindergarten and a room for special class work), library and board room, dental clinic, health room, teachers’ restroom, reception room, principal's office, serving room, stockroom, four toilet rooms, two basement playrooms with lunch counter, boiler room, and janitor’s work room.” The total cost for the new school was $125,900. Next door, the Junior High shop classes built 51 flower box stands and 2 chests for blocks for the new school.
The Longmeadow Historical Society wishes all town teachers, staff, parents, and children a joyous and peaceful holiday break this year! You certainly deserve it! Perhaps in 100 years, we’ll be writing about your extraordinary efforts in 2020 to keep school going for our children during a global pandemic.
Contributed by Melissa M. Cybulski, Board Member, Longmeadow Historical Society
Originally published December 24, 2020