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PRINTED BY STUDENTS OF THE GRAPHIC ARTS DEPARTMENT
WILLIAMSPORT TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
A Division of th« Williamsport School District
THE WILLIAMSPORT EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
Fred F. Bastian, President of W. E. A., 1 956-1 957
To celebrate the Centennial of the National Education Association
and to freserve the records of education in our community, this project
of gathering and publishing the histories of our Williamsport schools was
Jack C. Deibert, President of W. E. A., 1957-1958
This review of school progress, by diligent research carried hack many
years, impresses us with the high degree of cooperation of citizens with teach-
ers and administrators. The people of the area want good schools to give all
children the best education possible and they have worked with the schools
to develop an efficient school system and an adequate curriculum. This
progress will continue and improve in the years ahead.
JAMES V. BROWN 'JSI^AR^
♦MLLIA^MSPORT, PENNA 17TQ
Dr. George H. Parkes, Superintendent of Schools
The people of our community have always enjoyed splendid educational
assets. First, the Boards of School Directors have been composed of hard
working and far seeing citizens. Second, we have had a splendid corps of
professional educators serving the children and adults of the area. This
publication is ample evidence of this progress and of the splendid rapport
among our faculty, adm^inistration and the Board of School Directors.
Edward Durrwachter, President of School Board
The Williamsport School District considers it a pleasure to express its
gratitude to the teachers in our district. A teacher richly deserves the es-
teem and admiration of all citizens in the community. A teacher affects
eternity as his or her influence extends through many generations into the
future. It is the wish of our hoard that all of our personnel should always
continue to stand as shining examples of our American way of life.
Pride in our schools of Williamsport, a desire to pay tribute to our
fine boys and girls and to their teachers, and a wish to reacquaint the
citizens of Williamsport with their valuable investments, both tangible and
intangible, which they possess in the fine schools of the city, prompted
the members of the Williamsport Education Association to prepare this book-
let. It is presented to vou with their good wishes. This is one of the ways
local teachers have chosen to observe the Centennial of the National Edu-
As we look ahead to a second century of progress in education wherein
boys and girls may receive even greater guidance in becoming citizens of
worth and leadership in affairs of local, national and international scope,
we are aware of the deep debt of gratitude we owe to our first century
teachers and the Boards of Education who laid broad and sound foundations
upon which we build.
A backward glance into the historv of each of our schools— each with
a distinct personality, we trust, will prove interesting, perhaps nostalgic and
This historv of the schools of Williamsport, some anecdotes, their
unique ways of meeting the needs of the day, will be put on file in the
James V. Brown Library and placed with other important records, in each
of the schools for second century educators, history lovers and students to
studv, to reminisce perhaps and certainly to enjoy.
THE TANGIBLE VALUE OF THE SCHOOLS IN 1957
According to the appraisals made by Marshall and Stevens on May 3,
1957, the replacement cost of the school buildings is $17,465,697.00. Of
this value 5833,023.00 is in land, $14,143,597.00 is in buildings and $2,-
489,077.00 is in equipment and furniture. The senior high school has the
highest replacement value at $2,644,944. The building of lowest value
is the Service and Operation building of the Technical Institute at $44,986.00.
Credit for research and writing of the separate school histories, as well
as our sincere thanks, are due the following teachers:
Williamsport High School Elmer R. Koons
Williamsport Technical Institute Sara Catherine Nutt
Andrew G. Curtin Junior High School F. Catharine Fisher
Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School James E. Logue
Thaddeus Stevens Junior High School M- Esther Reilley
Henry Clav Charlotte R. Williams
J. Henry Cochran Rodney L. Caulkins
Benjamin Franklin Yavonne J. Conrad
Andrew Jackson I°* Decker
Thomas Jefferson Mary S. Woodling
Abraham Lincoln Carrolyn E. Wein
Charles Lose Sara G. Allen and Mary L. Bennett
Philip Sheridan William E. Nichols
George Washington Elizabeth M. Good
Daniel Webster Mabel E. Eck
Continuation School Mabel Turner
Emer)' School George R. Walters
William Penn and Samuel Transeau Schools Isabelle M. McGraw
We are indebted to J. Wayne Straub, Charles Strayer and Jack Deibert
of the Williamsport Technical Institute for the photography and printing of
this booklet; to June Baskin of the Cochran faculty for the cover design; and
for the orioinal illustrations.
To each person who contributed in any way to the publication of
The Williamsport Schools Through the Years we express our sincere thanks.
Ida E. Heller
Isabelle M. McGraw
Sara B. Poust
J. Wayne Straub
Mildred Kelly, Chairman
HISTORY OF WILLIAMSPORT HIGH SCHOOL
The Williamsport High School lives by its motto: "Crescit Eundo—
Grow as you go." The history of the Williamsport High School begins,
in fact, with the history of public school education in Williamsport, although
a "high school" as such was not organized until 1869.
In 1869 an examination of the pupils in the three higher grades in
schools existing then determined the selection of 13 pupils, who, with
Samuel Transeau as principal, constituted the Williamsport High School.
The school's entire physical plant consisted of one small room. The course
of study, arranged to occupy three years, consisted of the common branches,
including algebra, chemistry, physiology and natural philosophy, and such
advanced studies as were formerly taught in the grammar schools.
The organization of the high school was opposed by teachers who
were unwilling to lose their most advanced pupils, and by the public who
objected to the added expense.
According to Paul G. Gilmore in his Digest of John F. Meginness His-
tory of Lycoming County, the high school was located first in Hill's Block
on the north side of Fourth Street, between Elmira and Hepburn Streets.
It was later located in DuBois Hall and in 1872 was located on the second
floor of the Independence Engine House on the east side of Mulberry
Street. This fire house was also known as Engine House No. 1, located
just north of Christ Episcopal Church.
The first years of the high school were full of changes. By 1878, when
the school was moved to the third floor of the Curtin School Building, then
located at 612 Market Street, now the site of the First E. U. B. Church,
its location had been changed five times, and seven principals had succes-
sively directed its work. Meanwhile, in 1873, the course of study was
extended to cover four years. In 1877, the course was revised again with
a view to prepare graduates for teaching.
In 1887 the first Williamsport High School building was constructed
at the southeast corner of Third and Walnut Streets. The class of 1888
consisted of 160 pupils.
New courses of study— classical, Latin-scientific and English-scientific—
were adopted in 1894. The commercial department extended its program
into a two-year course and was moved to the new Washington School
building. In 1900 the high school boasted 11 teachers and 370 students.
The high school building burned on Saturday, April 4, 1914. The
Class of 1914 was graduated in the unfinished new high school building
on Third Street at Susquehanna Street.
William Wilse Kelchner was the principal of the high school from
the time it was constructed until his death in 1904. He was succeeded by
Percy M. Bullard. Dr. Alvin M. Weaver succeeded Mr. Bullard. Dr.
James E. Nancarrow became principal of the high school in 1926 and
served until 1943 when he resigned and was succeeded by Dr. LeRoy F.
Derr who continued in this post until his retirement in 1957 His successor
was David M. Stuempfle, the present principal.
At the turn of the century the high school offered four courses of study
—the classical, the Latin-scientific, the English-scientific, and the commercial.
These courses consisted of such course subjects as Greek, rhetoric, decla-
mation, essays, and orations.
As the century progressed, the high school kept up with the times.
One of its major moves toward expansion was the formation of the "shop"
course— the embryo of the present Williamsport Technical Institute.
School enrollment continued to expand, and in 1935 the present high
school was enlarged by the addition of a new wing containing approximately
20 classrooms, a little theater, an office for the Cherry and White publica-
tion, which was begun in 1896, and a special sound-proof band room. This
new wing was made possible by the removal of the industrial department
to the newly built industrial units on Susquehanna Street.
The erection of the new gymnasium across the street from the high
school building was begun in the spring of 1936, and the building -was
dedicated in November, 1937.
The physical growth of the Williamsport High School is one part of
the school's history. Its growth in curriculum has kept a steady pace with
the changing times. Today, graduates of the Williamsport High School
meet all requirements for furthering their education by the leading colleges
and universities throughout the United States. The faculty has grown
from 68 teachers in the high school and to 85 teachers and instructors in
the technical institute. Its enrollment now totals over 2,000 students.
HISTORY OF CLAY SCHOOL
The first Clay School was located at 1269 Vine Street in the year of
1890. There were three teachers, A. H. Bingham, Clara Kurtz and Laura
Sprague. Movement was made for the sale of this school at the School
Board Meeting, April 7, 1893. On January 13, 1905 the board confirmed
its sale. The Finance Committee of the board advertised for bids for the
sale of the old building and had sold it to Joseph Huff, the highest bidder,
for eight hundred twenty-six dollars.
The new Clav Building was formally accepted August 21, 1894. Mr.
J. W. Gilmore became the principal in 1895. There were nine teachers
and three divisions known as the Senior, Junior and Primary Grades. In
1898 the city schools were listed as Primary, Intermediate and Grammar
schools. Clay was classified as a Grammar school. Mr. Gilmore served
as principal from 1895-1925. He was succeeded by Mr. George Walters.
The eighth and ninth grades were transferred to the new Stevens Junior
High School in 1924. Later the seventh grade was sent to Stevens. In
1955 the fourth, fifth and sixth grades were transferred to the Lose School
and Mr. Walters was transferred to Washington School. Clay is now known
as the Lose Area School with Mr. T. Ferguson, principal.
Clay School has had two outstanding principals, Mr. John Gilmore and
Mr. George Walters. Mr. Gilmore's long years of service were rich in results
for education. The contributions of his services have brought to many
persons, young and old whom he served, affection and high esteem. His
wise counsel and enthusiasm will long remain in our community.
Mr. Walters' outstanding interest was the well-being of the child. He
stressed the importance of good health habits and physical fitness through
a well organized health and physical education program. He emphasized
the value of safety education by promoting instruction in habits of careful-
ness and caution. His untiring effort has given to the child and adult a
better opportunity for useful living.
From the opening of the old Clay School and the present Clay, more
than fifty teachers have been associated with its faculty.
J. HENRY COCHRAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
In the spring of 1928 the Center and Vallamont schools were closed
due to lack of space and other conditions within each building. Henceforth
pupils from these attendance areas would be enrolled in the new J. Henry
This school was to be erected on a plot of ground deeded to the
Williamsport School District in April, 1927. The land was received from
the School District of Loyalsock Township, which had been given the plot
by the family of Senator J. Henry Cochran, pioneer lumberman, banker
and philanthropist. The deed specified that the land be used only for
school and recreation purposes. On this plot was built the original portion
of the preseent J. Henry Cochran Elementary School.
Not long after acquiring the land, the School Board of the City of
Williamsport began planning for the construction of the new school. It
was to be a consolidation of the Center and Vallamont schools, providing
better facilities for the children of the area. Within two months the Board
had awarded contracts totaling $157,377.00. The new 15 classroom building
was completed and dedicated in 1928.
By the time the Dedication Exercises were held, Mr. Earle W. Phillips
and his faculty of eleven teachers had had underway a busy schedule of
instruction for their four hundred and thirty-nine pupils. This enrollment
made an average teaching load of thirty-six pupils per teacher. First grade
teachers were Miss Dorothy Plank and Miss Eleanor Fisher. The second
grades were taught by Miss Phoebe Bloomfield and Miss Ocie Drick. One
third grade and one fourth grade were instructed by Miss Olive Ramsey
and Miss Edna Miller, respectively, while Miss Carmen Probst taught a
combination of third and fourth grades. The fifth grade teachers were Miss
Ida Hays and Miss Ellen Young, and Miss Zella Pepperman and Mr. Phillips
were instructors for the sixth grade.
Twenty-three years passed, and Cochran found it necessary to expand
to meet the demands of larger enrollment and new and increased activity.
In 1951 the Board awarded contracts totaling almost $416,000.00 for an
addition to the original structure. This wing, completed in 1952, is approxi-
mately the size of the "old" section, and adds 16 classrooms, a gymnasium-
auditorium and a cafeteria to the school.
Two kindergartens were opened in the fall of 1952. However, as far
back as 1928, it is recorded that there was a strong demand for a kinder-
garten in the new Cochran building!
During the first year, 1928, the foundation was laid for the J. Henry
Cochran Parent Teacher Association to become one of the largest and
strongest in Williamsport. The officers for this new association were nomi-
nated by a committee made up of representatives from the Center P. T. A.
and the Vallamont P. T. A. These officers were duly elected at the first
meeting held on September 28, 1928.
Many important projects are undertaken each year by the P. T. A.
The Cochran P. T. A. established and maintains a Student Loan Fund.
This project was an outgrowth of a similar one at the Vallamont School.
In 1928 Cochran's Library Fund was set up, and each year an appropriation
is made for Library Expenditures.
"My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest
of mv life there."
These words by Charles F. Kettering express the feeling of the two
organizations vital to the continued growth and development of the J.
Henry Cochran School.
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ANDREW G. CURTIN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
The year was 1869; the city of Williamsport was expanding rapidly;
the farsighted school board realized that there would soon be a need for a
new building to care for the youngsters in the "northern" part of the growing
city. With this in mind, it purchased a lot from Mulberry Street Methodist
Church, at the point where Market and Packer Streets come together. The
city did grow, as anticipated, and in January, 1874, the first students reported
to the Market Street Building that had been built on this lot.
Market Street Building seemed too commonplace and nondescript a
name, however, for what had become a very definite asset to the Williamsport
school system. Many names were considered, including that of Thaddeus
Stevens, but in September, 1899, at a name-changing ceremony, the school
became officially known as the Andrew G. Curtin School.
The citv continued its expansion northward, and Curtin, termed a
"menace" by the superintendent, seemed inadequate, and the school board
felt that a new building should be erected on a new site. That decision
accounts for the parade through Brandon Park on St. Patrick's Day, 1921,
when the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, books and belongings in tow,
marched eagerly to their new schoolhouse at the corner of Packer and Eldred
Streets. While it was a new building, it was, however, keeping its old
name, Andrew G. Curtin. In continuing this name, the school fathers
showed their desire to maintain the quality of service to all that typified the
personality and career of Governor Curtin. This same desire was kept con-
stantly before the students as the school motto became, "Enter to learn; go
forth to serve."
It must have been a proud and satisfying day for Mr. A. L. Pepperman,
principal of the school, as he watched these youngsters say goodbye to their
classmates in the first five grades. These younger students would not be
transferred until the following school term to the larger, more modern Cur-
tin, with fourteen classrooms, a sister to the Roosevelt School in the western
end of the city. Incidentally, these two schools were exactly alike on the
interior, but Curtin was given a classical exterior, while "collegiate" was the
word used to describe the outward appearance of Roosevelt.
The "old" Curtin passed from sight in March, 1923, as the land was
sold and razing was started so that the present First Evangelical United
Brethren Church could be built.
Almost immediately changes were made to keep abreast with the needs
of the dav. In 1923, the school board took official action to make Curtin
a junior high school, and in the 1924-25 term, only seventh, eighth, and
ninth graders were enrolled. With the appearance of a junior high school
organization, specialization could be continued and developed to an even
greater degree than had been done previously. To be found in the super-
intendent's report is an explanation of this move: "The adolescent youth
has an urge to make things, to experiment, to try out his abilities. The
junior high school should be rich in activities to enable a pupil to explore
these interests and abilities ... A pupil is not taught a trade, but the school
uses his desires to construct as an impelling motive for good work and atten-
tion to his duty . . . The development of departmentalization allows each
student to excel in his own special field and thus local school pride is
The advent of this junior high school program, plus the continued rapid
growth in population, make it soon evident that an addition would have to
be added, not only to care for the greater student enrollment, but to provide
adequate space for the ever-expanding curriculum and school activities. So
it was that Rededication Services were held on November 23, 1928, with
the Honorable Emerson Collins, a member of the Public Service Commis-
sion, as the principal speaker, just as he had been seven vears earlier at the
first Dedication Services.
As the years have passed, Andrew G. Curtin Junior High School has
continued to grow with the community, ever ready to meet the increasing
demands made upon it and its facilities. While its exterior has remained
classical in design, its educational interior has been kept modern and apace
with the times. The Curtin ninth graders who receive their junior high
school certificates have been given not only the three R's, still basic in
education, but a great deal more. They have been allowed to develop their
special skills in art, music, athletics. They have been permitted to discover
their manual dexterity, to explore the domestic sciences. They have been
given a glimpse into the commercial and business world. They have been
given the chance to study the great number of vocations and professions
available to them as adults, through the occupations program, climaxed each
year by a Career Conference.
Since the second semester of 1929, the students have been learning
the processes of self-government, with the organization of a student council.
In 1926, the first issue of the Curtin Junior Citizen made its appearance,
so that the pupils have had the opportunity to learn self-expression, and to
see their work printed in the school magazine.
To recognize those ninth graders who have most worthilv exemplified
the ideal Curtin citizen, the National Junior Honor Society was chartered
on April 25, 1947. In voting membership to the Societv, the faculty con-
siders not only the scholastic achievement of the pupil and participation in
the extra-curricular activities of the school, but emphasizes the display of
those character qualities necessarv for good citizenship.
After a long and successful career as teacher and principal, Mr. Pepper-
man retired in 1942, secure in the knowledge that Curtin School, which
had been under his leadership since 1897, had established for itself an
enviable reputation in the educational world. This fine reputation has con-
tinued to grow under Dr. L. F. Derr, principal for the 1942-43 term, and
under the present principal, Mr. Robert D. Smink, who assumed that posi-
tion in the fall of 1943. The present faculty and students are faithfully
upholding those same standards of loyal service and cooperation which have
been the aims of Curtin School since that first child entered its front door
in January, 1874.
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HISTORY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SCHOOL
Eighteen fifty-six saw the beginning of our FrankHn School. This first
Frankhn building on Mulberry Street was completed in 1858 and the first
classes were held in it in January, 1859.
A. B. Putnam and Conley Plotts were among the first to teach in the
new building. At that time the male teacher earned $81.63 a month and the
less fortunate female earned only $45.54 a month.
The Franklin School had four classes on the first floor, two on the
second and two more classes on the third floor. In 1871 the building was
remodeled combining the second and third floor classes. Overcrowding was
a problem then as it is today, there being fifly to sixty pupils on the first
floor and one hundred fifty to two hundred on the second and third floors.
The building of the new Penn School and the enlarging of Jeff^erson helped
to relieve the overcrowded situation.
In 1861, there being no high school, algebra and other subjects of that
plane were added to the curriculum.
In 1863, Wesley Miles was principal of Franklin. During this time
a savings bank system was in operation. Any pupil could deposit from a
penny up with his teacher who then placed it to his credit in a national
bank. When the pupil had deposited the amount of two dollars he received
a bank book and 3% interest.
Before the days of the paid fire department the No. 1 engine house
bell meant trouble for teachers at Franklin School. All the older boys in
the building were firemen and one tap of that bell meant uproar and all
who could, dashed away.
In 1875, Prof. Samuel Transeau became superintendent and established
his office at the Franklin building. Prior to that time the superintendent had
no office. The office of the superintendent then remained in the Franklin
building for seventeen years.
On November 6, 1902 the Williamsport School Board proposed the
issuance of coupon bonds, not less than $100.00 each, to erect a new Frank-
lin building on the site of the one in use. The cost of the buildina was not
to exceed $27,000.
On December 5, 1902, the board wanted to find a more desirable way
to raise the money and any action on the proposed Franklin building was
Then in May, 1903 the contract for the Franklin building was awarded
to Samuel Larrivee at $34311.75 less $500 bid for the old structure. The
building was to be completed bv January 1, 1904.
June 12, 1903 saw the beginning of the demolition of one of the four
oldest educational landmarks of Williamsport, and of the oldest public
school building in service. More than six thousand of Williamsport's young
people had at one time attended the old Franklin building. Although the
new building was a definite need, many people of Williamsport who had
studied within its walls were sorry to see the old building go.
Upon its completion in 1904, the Franklin building held nine grades.
The curriculum included manual training and sewing until 1918 when the
present Curtin building was constructed. At that time Franklin became
an elementary school having only six grades.
The first mural paintings in the public schools at Williamsport were
installed in 1914 in the grammar room of the Franklin building. The artist,
|. Wesley Little of Picture Rocks, Penna., was commissioned by the Franklin
Parent Teacher Association. The mural was a painting of a typical Susque-
hanna River scene.
The Franklin building has seen many outstanding workers of educa-
tion. In 1909, S. W. Furst, principal of Franklin wrote a poem, Lincoln,
in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Lincoln. He also
wrote a Mensuration Book used at the Franklin building, and a text, English
Grammar bv Outline.
The Franklin School won many trophies during the years for sporting
events. It has been engaged in many interesting and outstanding projects.
During World War II in September, 1944, they won a banner for the
collection of the most tin cans to help the war effort.
There is little change in the Franklin building itself since its construc-
tion. It now contains eight classrooms, an assembly room and a well
equipped art room. The building now houses six grades, consisting of 225
pupils, eight teachers and the principal, Mr. John L. Earner, who com-
menced his duties at Franklin School in 1947.
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HISTORY OF THE
THADDEUS STEVENS JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Stevens Junior High, a memorial to Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868),
"the father of the Common School System of Pennsvlvania," is a school of
a highly cherished tradition and represents also the best in what a secondary
education can offer to its students.
The history of Stevens actually began in 1926, however, its inception
can be traced several vears, prior to that date. As the school population
increased, the city's school directors envisoned a new type of building. It
would serve the need for secondary educational facilities and replace the old
Steven Elementary School, on Memorial Avenue.
In a vicinitv, which included only open spaces, unpaved roads, and an
occasional house. The Board of Education purchased a site "high on a hill-
side," bounded bv Louisa and North Grier Streets and Seventh and Rural
Avenues. On this property, a red brick structure of English architectural
design was erected by Guilbert-Bartette, architects and John Cunningham,
The cornerstone was laid Julv 20, 1926. The Thaddeus Stevens Junior
High School was officially opened September, 1927, and dedicated December,
1927, with Dr. A. M. Weaver, as superintendent, and Mr. Harvey E. Stabler,
formerly of The Samuel Transeau Elementary Building, as principal. Seven-
teen women and four men comprised the faculty, with an enrollment of
approximately 800 boys and girls.
The grades housed in the old Stevens moved to the new junior high,
until their new elementarv school was finished. The citv's public school
system had now inaugurated an unified secondary educational system.
The Andrew G. Curtin, The Theodore Roosevelt, and The Thaddeus Stevens
served 7th, 8th and 9th, with the present senior high, exclusively, for 10th,
11th, and 12th grades.
With its sloping terraces, set in magnificent elms and shrubbery,
Stevens was one of the city's beauty spots. Equipped with a combined
stage and gymnasium, modern classrooms, auditorium, shops, cooking and
science laboratories and the first public school library, the school with its
beauty of exterior and interior, was an achievement of which Williamsport
could be justlv proud.
One of the unique features of Stevens was its Merit System. The
firm belief of Mr. Har\'ey E. Stabler was that the primary objective of a
school is to train pupils for good citizens. To impress the pupils with this
solemn duty, he formulated a Merit System, whereby the students could
practice habits of citizenship.
The system was presented to the faculty October 10, 1927. It was
approved and accepted. Although it has been amended and revised several
limes— the purpose remains the same. To quote Mr. Stabler, "The Merit
Svstem of our school has been organized to encourage groups to work in
harmony for better standards in scholarship, behavior, attendance, dress, and
In as far as possible the policy of the curriculum and its presentation
is adapted to the needs of youth. An effort is made to help each student
discover his interests, abilities, and possibilities for self-development and
intelligent adjustment. Besides the program of studies, attitudes, apprecia-
tions, and habits are encouraged in many areas— love of American democracy,
critical thinking, creativeness, attitudes of inquiry, and assuming respon-
sibility in self-direction.
Coupled with the ideals of citizenship and scholarship, Stevens also
emphasizes the de\'elopment of well-rounded interests— art, assemblies, ath-
letics, clubs, dramatics, musical organizations, and publications— have afforded
a wide range of growth fields adapted to the varying student's interests.
In 1942, upon the retirement of Mr. Stabler, Mr. C. Grover Hyman, of
The Samuel Transeau Elementary Building was elected his successor. Under
Mr. Hyman's loyal and effective guidance, the pattern of sound moral and
pedagogical principles, upon which the school was built, continues to be
Student publications have been important in the life of the school. In
1942, The Stevens was founded as a school magazine and continued as
such until 1955. The Stevens has preserved a reflection of the way of life
at Stevens, and was one of the leading junior high magazines. The new
school seal, designed by Richard Griess, '43 and Walter Hertzog, '43, first
appeared in The Stevens.
In the early days of Stevens, the first edition of The Hilltopper, a
newspaper appeared. It continued for several years and has been recently
(1955) republished. Another publication, the handbook, also titled The
Hilltopper was printed in 1954.
The 25th anniversary year, in 1952, of Stevens was marked by a series
of occasions during the school term. A reception and tea attended by 500
alumni and friends was held May 4, in the form of open house in the school
gymnasium. Everyone attending this celebration was presented an 18 page
Silver Jubilee Booklet, containing photographs and facts concerning the
history of Stevens.
The theme of the commencement also commemorated the anniversary.
Hark the Past, a revue, written by Murray Grove, '44, featured highlights
among the activities and honors achieved by the school in the past 25 years.
Through the years, Stevens has had to struggle against the effects of
war, economic limitations, and major changes in population, which had
cast their shadows upon our school life. Increasing pressures had also arisen
to institute a modern school program geared to the life of over a quarter
of a century ago.
Stevens has well met the challenge. A primary function of the school
has always been to encourage good citizenship. With the help of the Merit
System and a conscientious faculty under effective principalships, Stevens
has ever worked to develop intelligent, and loyal leadership. Testimony
to its success lies in the many alumni who now hold responsible positions in
the life of this community.
Today, as at the time of its founding, Stevens is proud of its heritage
and continues to translate into daily action the traditions of honor, self-
control, and service fostered by the school. Furthermore, it strives to main-
tain and pass on its intangible spirit which shall enable successive generations
of students, teachers, principals and alumni to be worthy of the greatest
figure in Pennsylvania Public School History— Thaddeus Stevens.
". . . build not your monuments of brass or
marble but make them of Everlasting Mind!"
HISTORY OF JACKSON SCHOOL
The Jackson School is the oldest school in Williamsport. In all
probability, it dates back to the time of Andrew Jackson, seventh president
of the United States (1828-1844), and started the precedent for naming
local schools for Presidents of the United States.
"A Centennial History of Newherry" covering the years from 1776 to
1876, compiled by C. V. L. McMinn, and published in 1876, states: "The
children found the old stone Presbyterian Church (1817-1850) a grand
play house for their school days." Senior citizens of Newberrv whose ances-
tors were first settlers say the first Jackson School was located at the present
site of the Vanderlin Cleaning Works, 636 Arch Street, across from the
Presbyterian Church property. This was a stone building.
Previous to this a log building, name unknown, was located in Jays-
burg, which shared with Dunnsburg, the honor of being the second school
built in the countv. According to John Meginess, editor of the Lvcoming
Countv Centennial, the Quakers at Pennsdale established the first school
in Lycoming County.
In 1870, a new school was located on Diamond Street, this being the
first building in Newberry to be erected bv the Williamsport School Board.
This was a two storv, four room, brick building. The lower grades were
housed on the first flloor, and the upper grades on the second floor. The
second floor rooms were divided by sliding doors which were thrown open
for gala occasions such as box socials and square dances. The seating was
on long benches, running parallel to the sliding doors. The doors contained
a little window through which the teachers used to converse. The Daily
Lycoming Gazette and West Branch BitUetin, March 1870, stated: "The
scholars, who were assembled at the old school rooms, formed in a proces-
sion, and accompanied by their teachers, marched to the new building." At
one time this school had an annex called the Ramsey School, located at
the present site of the Church of Christ, on Diamond Street.
In 1892, a new Jackson Building was erected on Linn Street at the
present site of Old Jackson Recreation Center. This was a ten room
brick building. It had double seats and recitation benches, but no cloak
rooms. The children's wraps were hung on hooks around the room. This
centrally located school in the heart of Newberry became a community
center. Here, during the First World War, machines were moved in and
the ladies sewed and knitted for the Red Cross. There was a Jackson
Paient-Teacher Orchestra, a Fathers' Chorus, a Mothers' Chorus, a Garden
Club, etc. At a three dav fair held in Diamond Square, the sum of $1,662.31
was raised for the Red Cross, thus making Jackson's total contribution to
the Red Cross $5,423.68.
During the Second World War, the teachers from the Roosevelt, Lin-
coln, and Jackson schools, spent long evenings rationing gasoline and sugar,
and registering soldiers. Scrap-iron was collected and placed around the
flag pole, once reaching as high as the pole itself. The central hall was
piled high with crates of flattened tin cans, for the war effort.
Prior to the opening of the Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School
in 1921, the Jackson School contained nine grades and 640 pupils. Because
of crowded conditions, an annex was opened in the Sunday School room
of the Church of Christ, on Diamond Street, and five rooms were opened
at the lona Temple at the corner of Fourth and Arch Streets.
When the Junior High school was ready for occupancy, sixth, seventh,
eighth, and ninth grades were housed in the new building, while the
first five grades were brought together at Jackson.
Jackson is proud of Mrs. Howard Hall, who, from being President
of the Jackson Parent-Teacher Association, went on to be President of the
City, County and State Associations, and became a well known figure na-
tionally in Parent-Teacher work.
In February 1950, the Jackson Building was destroyed bv fire. With
it went one of its fondest traditions, the Jackson bell. This bell had wel-
comed generations of Newberry children to school in the fall, and spelled
freedom in the spring. It was a privilege to ring the bell, and though
forbidden, many a child took a sly swing on the bell rope. Citizens set
their clocks bv the bell, and when it ceased to ring, it was sadly missed.
After the fire for a year and a half, Jackson held half sessions with
Lincoln. The children were transported by school bus.
In 1952, the Roosevelt Junior High moved to new quarters on W/est
Fourth Street, and the Jackson School was housed in its present building,
the former Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School at Wayne and Hillside
Thus the school, with a population trend, moved from East to West,
ever keeping abreast of the times. Progressing from a one room stone
building to a twenty-one room brick building containing cafeteria, kinder-
garten, Day Training Center, play room, library, art room, office and rest
rooms, with a faculty of sixteen, plus custodians, clerk, and supervisors.
THOMAS JEFFERSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The Ross and Jefferson School was built in 1866 at 704 Washington
Street. This was the school used by East End children, and which was
later replaced by the Thomas Jefferson School. The Ross building was
valued at $12,000 and this evaluation included the furniture and library.
By 1890 the teachers of this school had a salary scale ranging from
$B0 to $40 per month. The principal of the Jefferson School received the
sum of $75 per month, and the janitor received $25 per month.
There were frequent absences from school at that time, and truant
officers were kept quite busy. The excuses used most often were that
errands had to be run and that the children had to carry in wood for the day.
In 1890 Mr. Transeau, the city superintendent, was studying a way
for the school district to purchase textbooks and supplies for every pupil.
At this time, the pupils had to purchase books from the district. Therefore,
there were many children who did not attend school because their parents
were financially unable to buy the books. Mr. Transeau concluded that
this was not an example of true American democracy. In a few years fol-
lowing, textbooks were purchased by the district and were in free use of
The enrollment at the Ross and Jefferson School on June 1, 1903
was 286 with 150 boys and 136 girls. At this time Mr. Charles Lose was
Superintendent of city schools.
Mr. Lose defined corporal punishment in 1903 with the following
statement: "In afflicting corporal punishment, no other instrument than
a common rod or whip shall be employed and all cases of punishment shall
be recorded by the teacher in a book kept for that punishment."
On February 19, 1904 an article which appeared in the Williatns'port
Sun is one concerning the buying of a lot for a new school to replace the
Ross and Jefferson Building. The proposed lot was at the corner of Wash-
ington and Grove Streets, and would be bought for $3,600.
The new school was designed by Mr. Mahlon Fisher, and it was
constructed in 1907 at 726 Washington Boulevard, where it now stands.
The new building was now in need of a name, and on August 13,
1907 it was a matter of dispute at the regular Williamsport School Board
meeting. It was a victory for Thomas Jefferson and a defeat for Michael
Ross. But the victory was won by such a narrow margin that even so
prominent a personage as the founder of WilHamsport would not have felt
ashamed o\'er the result. The committee had reported recommending that
the building be named in honor of the immortal Jefferson. Director Ertel
moved to substitute the name Ross for Jefferson, arguing that it was befit-
ting that a local educational institution should bear the name of the founder
of Williamsport. Director Conkrite argued that, although Michael Ross
founded Williamsport, Thomas Jefferson was practicallv the founder of
our American government. Director Fleming argued that it was a matter
of local pride and patriotism to name the building for the founder of the city.
When roll was called for an amendment to the committee report, it
resulted in a tie vote 18-18. The amendment had not received a majority
vote, so Thomas Jefferson was adopted.
The Thomas Jefferson school had ten classrooms and a facultv room for
the teachers. Nine grades, including first through ninth, and later eight
grades, first through eighth, attended this school, until 1913 when there
was a reorganization of elementary schools. In 1913 the reorganization
provided for a primary course for six years, grammar school for two years,
and a four-vear high school.
In 1909 there was made a revised course of study for reading. Bald-
win's School Reading replaced the old Swinton Readers. And, important
parts of this new course were phonic drills and memory selections.
Promotions were made on demonstrated ability. Most grades worked
on three levels and a pupil might have been promoted at midterm, or he
might have even skipped a whole grade. There were summer schools for
those pupils who had failed in some studies.
Mrs. Robert Calehuff was the first president of the P. T. A. Mrs.
Joseph Pover is the oldest living past president of the Thomas Jefferson
School. Mrs. Pover has related how difficult it had been to organize a
P. T. A., because the teachers felt a P. T. A. would infringe upon their
rights, and because there was a lack of interest on the part of parents. The
P. T. A. had replaced the organization called The Mothers' Club, which
was active at the old Ross Building.
In 1914 the first musical organization at the Thomas JefTerson School
was formed. This school orchestra was a source of pride and it played at
many functions where the orchestra was directed bv student leaders.
The late Mr. Spotts was the best known principal of the Thomas
Jefferson School, for he served from its beginning until his retirement
almost forty years later.
Some of the oldest living teachers from the school are, Miss Alice Hess,
Misses Hadassa and Blanche Balliet, Miss Jennette Heller and Miss Gertrude
Quite unlike 1957, in 1921 about sixtv additional children could have
been accommodated in vacant rooms in the Jefferson Building. At the
present time, the one large center room on the second floor has been divided
into two rooms, the faculty room is now used as a third grade classroom,
and the basement has a classroom for the special education.
Among the special activities during the 1922-23 school term was the
opening of nutrition classes in the Jefferson School. Teachers and nurses
secured names of the undernourished and these were served one-half pint
of milk each morning. The funds were supplied by the P. T. A.
Under the auspices of the Jefferson P. T. A., impressive exercises
on May 25, 1923 accompanied the unveiling of a tablet in the Jefferson
Building in memory of Miss Harriet Taylor who had served faithfully as
a first grade teacher for many years. Appreciation of her unselfish devotion
was expressed by Dr. Armstrong of Central Presbyterian Church and Ex-
Superintendent, Charles Lose.
Miss Gusteva Richards is now teaching her thirty-fourth class of pupils
in the Jefferson School. She has taught both the intermediate and primary
grades. Miss Richards related that she can see onlv very small changes
in the school and its curricula.
Since 1930 there have been changes in the reading system. At present,
there is ability grouping with the Ginn Reading Series being used. The
pupils proceed with reading at individual speeds, and a child is given only
the reading skills and lessons which he is capable of understanding.
Social studies has replaced the separate courses of history and geography,
and science has gained a high position in all curricula.
The double-seated desks have been replaced by the individual desks
in the primary grades, and blonde desks and chairs are used bv the inter-
In 1950 fire escapes were added to the exterior of the school building,
a new and modern lighting system was installed in 1955, and an electric
clock and bell system has greatly facilitated the moving of classes in 1957.
A visit through the Jefferson School bv some of its former pupils would
prove there have been phvsical changes in the building. There have been
curricula changes, policv changes, and personnel changes. However, edu-
cation at the Thomas Jefferson School remains at a high level, and the
teachers are training an even larger enrollment than ever before. It is also
a tribute to the school to have a special education class, where, even those
who fiftv vears ago did not attend school, are learning to become our fine
citizens and co-workers.
The following question was directed to Mrs. Joseph Poyer, Jefferson's
third president of P. T. A. and a substitute teacher at Jefferson: "What
things were taught in school forty years ago that are not taught today?"
Mrs. Pover replied, "Not a thing. The children are taught many more
valuable things today than in the past." This is indeed a tribute to the
progress at the Thomas Jefferson School.
HISTORY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON SCHOOL
As the story goes— "When the cellar for the George Washington School
at the intersection of Third and William Streets was dug, quicksand was
discovered and many extra loads of fill were needed to provide a firm and
sound foundation." If this story is true, then in spite of, or perhaps because
of the quicksand foundation, the two George Washington Schools, which
have occupied that same site, were firmly and strongly built.
The first school, a two story, eight room, brick building was replaced
in 1896 by the present school. This new George Washington Building
was the largest school in Williamsport. It had nine grades and a faculty of
twelve. Because of this large faculty. Principal Fleming was entitled to
receive a salary of one hundred dollars a month, while other principals
received from fifty to ninety dollars.
The school term was shorter in 1896 but the courses of study were
longer. For example, the first grade children studied Swinton's First Reader,
all of the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division combinations.
Roman numbers, some fractions, diacritical marks, spelling, the names of
the states and capitols, the counties of the state of Pennsylvania, music
George Washington School has conformed to the principle of the
maximum amount of education for each child by having taught not only
the state required number of grade classes, but it has welcomed practically
every kind of class listed as taught in the Williamsport School District.
Back in 1896 Washington School was busy not only during the day
but also several evenings a week. These evening adult classes were begun
under the leadership of Roland T. MacLaren and covered the work taught
from the first grade on through the intermediate and grammar school levels.
That person who had no opportunity to attend public school, or who was
unable to complete the elementary subjects, or could not speak the English
language was welcome to attend these evening classes. Men who labored
during the day went to school at night, often falling asleep over their lesson.
Many were the reasons for attending these classes. One young first
grader living with his immigrant grandmother began to get a bit out of
hand. No matter in what trouble he was involved his answer to his grand-
mother was "It's a'right. Americans do it." So Grandmother went to night
school to learn to speak English, "to get ahead of Victor."
Americanization School phase of education was organized sixty years
ago as part of the George Washington Evening School program. This
work was started primarily to prepare aliens for citizenship and not merely
to teach them to be able to answer the questions asked in the Naturalization
Court. The beginners were given training in conversation, reading and
the fundamentals of government. Members of the class participated in a
graduation exercise sponsored by the Williamsport Civic Club. At these
exercises each new citizen was presented a certificate of attainment and a
small American flag. Many ambitious new Americans continued studying
in the night school and attempting to complete their elementary school edu-
Commercial subjects, too, were taught at the Washington Building
as a part of this evening school. These classes taught by Mr. H. Stiber
were held in the rooms of the Day Commercial School. "Commercial"
consisted of a two-year course in typing and other business subjects. With
the building of the new High School, this course was moved there and
expanded to a four-year course.
Early in the history of the Washington School, classes were started
in cooking. The Home Economics Department had a "Cooking School"
on the second floor. Here eighth and ninth grade girls from several
schools in the eastern end of the city attended to learn the rudiments of
.University Extension evening classes began in 1921 with George
Walters as director. These classes, directed by professors from the Penn-
sylvania State University, Bucknell, and University of Pennsylvania offered
college credits for professional advancement.
War Savings Bonds were sold at Washington School at the time of
World War I. Mothers organized sewing classes to make clothing for
war orphans and groups of children and adults rolled bandages to be used
in war hospitals.
During World War II the building was used as a center for rationing.
Young men registered for Selective Service, unemployed adults signed for
work, food rationing stamp books were alloted to families, gasoline stamp
books were given to car owners, extra gasoline stamps were issued for trucks,
and extra canning sugar permits were provided for large families. The
children, too, did their share. They collected milkweed pods as a sub-
stitute for kapok and tin cans to augment the metal supply.
During the depression daily classes in bookbinding were held in the
basement to provide work for unemployed persons.
In 1923 Dr. Robbins, then superintendent, asked Miss Elizabeth Jewitt,
the first grade teacher at Washington, if she would be interested in starting
an Opportunity School for retarded pupils. The children in this new school
were to be given more individual care and attention and were to progress
at their own rates of speed academically. Hand skills were to be stressed
and opportunities were to be provided for individual social adjustments.
It wasn't until 1928 that the state provided a course of study and a super-
visor for these classes. Until then Miss Jewitt wrote her own teaching
materials and planned the handwork that still is so vital a part of those
Washington, too, has gone modern. A television set was installed in
the auditorium in 1952. Here all grades are allowed to view programs
relative to their studies or their interests.
In February 1957 Washington School's second grade was televised in
its own classroom. The children were busy working on a weather and
temperature activity which was shown over WERE, a Wilkes-Barre televi-
Washington, too, has had its share of trials— three minor fires and
several floods. The March flood of 1936 caused the most damage to the build-
ing. Water covered the first floor up to the chalk troughs of the blackboards.
After a thorough spring cleaning, school materials were replaced, new steps
were laid, and Washington was ready to be occupied again for future decades.
"A house is as strong as its foundation and a school is as strong as its
faculty makes it." Washington always has been able to boast of its faculty,
those pioneers of education before the compulsory school laws and those who
have taught in the years following. The retired teachers who did so much
for so many children and the community are Miss Isa Pratt, Elizabeth Jewitt,
Mrs. Mabel Turner, Anna Duitch, Hadassa Balliett, Mrs. Nelle Lamason,
and Miss Helen Kase. Of them George Washington School is justly and
For sixty-one years through the doors of this George Washington
School have marched many hundreds of children. Today the grandchildren
are learning the multiplication tables in the same rooms as did their parents
and grandparents. Here Italian, Greek, Swedish, French, German, Chi-
nese, Armenian, Jewish, Negro, English, Indian, Gypsy, Latvian, and Amer-
ican children have rubbed shoulders, saluted the flag, shared recess lunches,
and have loved and honored George Washington School.
' I llf!;' .'H I 'lWl'l"
LIU Lil: '3 OR L-
^"' ' ?•►
HISTORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN SCHOOL
The expression "Little Red Schoolhouse" really means something to
the patrons of Lincoln School, for the first Lincoln School in the city was
a little two-roomed, red brick building. It was built in 1878 on the south-
east corner of Howard and Boyd Streets. It was a very modern building
with a pump and toilet facilities not too far away, and two rooms-one down-
stairs for the lower grades and one upstairs for the upper grades. Each room
was heated by a big pot-bellied, teacher-stoked stove set in the middle of
the room. In order to make allowance for the growth of Newberry, the
school was built "out in the fields'-fields that soon gave way to homes.
The first principal was a short man with a moustache and a mop of
very curly black hair. His name was H. M. Bingham. He taught until
In 1881 W. G. Winner came to this little school. Among the teachers
who taught here were Mr. Thomas Hammond who taught in 1882; W. H.
Moyer who taught in 1883; and J. E. Williams who became teacher and
principal from 1884 to 1895. During his tenure as principal Miss Anna
Carlisle was. one of the teachers. In June, 1894 Miss June Kendrig came
as a teacher, and in 1895 A. H. Bingham returned as principal and Miss
Alice Cady taught in the lower grades.
In September, 1897 Wilson Staver, a young man of eighteen who had
just graduated from high school in June, became the principal because the
patrons felt it would be better to have a younger man as principal. He
was the youngest man ever to serve as principal in any of the Williamsport
schools. He taught until 1902 when he went on to larger fields in New
Jersey and Ralph Pepperman was elected principal.
Early in the spring of 1900 a new brick building was built back of
the little two roomed school. It faced on Lincoln Street. It was not com-
pleted until winter and so it was that on the first of January, 1901, the
first classes were held in the new building.
There were four teachers-Mr. Wilson Staver, the principal; Miss Alice
Cady, Miss Mary Mitchell, and Miss Harriett Youngman. Here again was
e\'idence that the school had the "forward look" for there were four vacant
rooms to allow for growth of the school population.
People have come and gone as principals and teachers. Mr. Ralph
Pepperman followed Mr. Wilson Staver. He was followed by Mr. Drick
and then bv Mr. Erskine Schoolev. Later Miss Bess Goldv was principal
and at her death Mrs. Blanche McKillop became acting principal until Mr.
Lester Ade who later became State Superintendent of Schools was elected
principal. He staved here only one year. Still later Mr. Howard Stover
and Mr. Burton Hunsinger were in turn prinicpal. At Mr. Hunsinger's
death Mrs. Blanche McKillop again became acting principal and later
Lincoln School has always had a modern and progressive outlook.
From 1914 until the Roosevelt Junior High Schoo' was built both cooking
and sewing were taught as "Domestic Science" in the basement of the
school, with girls coming from Jackson and Webster schools on certain days
of the week to attend classes. Lincoln School was also one of the first
schools in the city to have an "Opportunity Class."
Through the years the school has grown. In 1926 another addition was
built. This time eight more rooms were added. The school has been mod-
ernized to a great extent until now, although one of the oldest schools in
the city, it is one of the most attractive.
From its doors have gone forth boys and girls who as adults have
made names for themselves as doctors, lawyers, merchant-chiefs, nurses,
teachers, and good home-makers and rearers of good families.
We are indebted to the following for information concerning our school
in its early days:
Mrs. T. O. Kunkle, a former pupil in the little red school and whose
children and grandchildren have been pupils here; Miss Alice Cady, Miss
Harriett Youngman, and Miss Bessie Gottschall, former teachers; Miss
Gay Staver, a sister of Mr. Wilson Staver; and Mrs. Blanche McKillop,
principal of the present Lincoln School.
HISTORY OF CHARLES LOSE SCHOOL
The new Charles Lose Elementary School at 1121 Memorial Avenue
with its modern glass entrance and unusual architecture has facilities un-
dreamed of by graduates of its predecessor, The Stevens Grade School.
On this site three school generations ago stood the Stevens Grade
School building, a product of the early 1800's and embellished with several
porches and a cupola. It lacked many facilities which we now consider
necessities, but it served well as a school and meeting place in a community
of long established residents.
For some years previous to 1923, an Open Air School occupied one of
the seven classrooms. Enrolled were undernourished children and those
suffering from frequent colds. Windows were open throughout the year
regardless of weather. The teacher assisted by a cook provided hot lunches,
milk, and frequent rest periods in addition to regular instruction. These
schools were established to help prevent tuberculosis, which took a large toll
of young people in those days prior to the disco\'erv of the wonder drugs.
As enrollment increased, crowded classrooms necessitated the removal of this
school to the Webster Building.
About 1925 the Parent-Teacher Association composed of actively inter-
ested and determined parents began agitation for a larger and more con-
venient school. A well planned publicity campaign helped to bring a favor-
able vote on the necessary bond issue. One of the most outstanding stunts
was the entry in a citv parade of a float carrving fiftv first "grade children
and bearing the sign: "Fifty Reasons for a New School."
Upon acceptance of the bond issue the building was assured. However,
when the Parent-Teacher Association viewed the blue prints as presented
by the president of the school board they were disappointed to find them
unsuited for an elementary school. They were informed that these were
plans for Thaddeus Stevens Junior High School, but that a grade school
building would follow.
In 1927, the pupils of the grade school were transferred to the west
wing of the Stevens Junior High School building. Thev were housed there
for two vears while the original Lose building was constructed.
This school, named for Dr. Charles Lose, a prominent educator and
former superintendent of Williamsport schools, was completed in 1929. It
was of fire proof construction and contained eight classrooms, a gvmnasium
and social room, and principal's office. At the dedication on November 1,
1929, Dr. Lose was the guest speaker.
Principal of the school until 1950 was Lewis W. Mack. Upon his
retirement, Miss Florence E. Clapp became principal and remained until
1954. During these vears the Parent-Teacher Association was constantly
interested and helpful.
Bv 1954, as school population increased and older buildings became
more out-moded and inadequate the school district was faced with the
necessity for a larger building in this area. The logical plan was to add to
the Lose building and thus provide for the pupils of the Transeau and Clay
Areas. Property was acquired in the immediate vicinity. Construction of
an addition was begun in 1954, providing many experiences and some in-
conveniences for the pupils in session.
By September 1955 the building was practically finished and, with the
grounds, covered almost a city block. It contains twenty-four classrooms,
a gymnasium, cafeteria, library, health rooms, and offices.
Formal dedication took place November 15, 1955, with Dr. Richard T.
Parsons, President of Lock Haven State Teachers College as guest speaker.
In November 1955 all pupils of the Transeau School and the fourth,
fifth, and sixth grade pupils of the Clay School moved in and quickly be-
came adjusted to new surroundings. Timothy J. Ferguson, formerly prin-
cipal of the Transeau School, was named principal of the combined schools.
Thus, this plot of ground might well become, of all Williamsport, one
of the most continuously used for public school purposes.
HHiiMMM ..: ^'aaHi
HISTORY OF WEBSTER SCHOOL
1663 Memorial Avenue, Williamsport, Penna.
The citizens of the West End were awakened one bright May morn-
ing with loud noises such as the unloading of stones, the piling of lumber,
and the pick and shovel gang with loud voices and much ado about this
High up on a knoll what a sight to behold! Men with blue prints
looking this way and that to see if lines were straight and others examining
the lumber and materials to be used in the building of the Daniel Webster
School that was named for the great scholar, Daniel Webster.
A year or two had passed and the interest grew as the building did.
The shining floors and the polished desks said that it was about ready
Then one June morning we looked out of a west window and heard
the rushing of waters and behold everything about us was flooded. All
the other schools were being destroyed but us and here we stood safe and
sound due to the choice of a wise school board.
Yes, the June flood of 1889 was at its peak and in the fall of that vear
many feet passed over the school's threshold.
Who was to direct all these children of the West End? A red top,
named John Gilmore, who had a good strong arm, and a keen sense of right
and wrong, so that anyone who got out of step was set straight to the tune
of the hickory stick. There were so few children that one teacher had
double grades, such as first and second in one room.
As time passed, the beautiful fields surrounding the building were
sold off in lots and people were building homes in this section.
Mr. Gilmore was transferred to Clay and Mr. Jasper Wade Stout was
selected his successor.
Mr. Stout was trained and ordained as a minister and teaching was
his side line, but soon it became his vocation. His straight forward prin-
ciples of right and wrong were soon felt and the school moved forward
Many prizes were won in music by Miss Jennie Heilhecker, both in
this school and city wide. We understand the Webster boys and girls were
very proficient in athletics under the direction of Miss Anna Duitch. They
won many silver cups in competition with other citv schools, especially girls'
volleyball and boys' basketball.
In recent years, many children won Art prizes and awards in the Brua
Keefer Art Exhibit held yearly at the Cochran School.
For many years the school held annual play days on the school grounds,
which included games, folk dances, and musical festivals.
The P. T. A. was a growing parent group in some of the city schools.
So of course Webster School became a leading one in that field. This
year at its last open meeting, it was announced the Webster P. T. A. re-
ceived the one hundred per cent honor certificate in membership for total
teacher representation and that of one parent from each family in the school.
For many years the children have supported the American Junior Red
Cross with money and helped to pack boxes to be sent abroad, under the
teacher sponsor, Mable E. Eck.
We hear the rumbling of cannons and marching feet as some of our
boys join the ranks to defend the free world. Everything has a different
slant as we hear songs such as "Over There" and "Keep the Home Fires
The Webster School had outgrown its building; rooms were crowded
and something had to be done, even in the midst of a World's War, so an
annex was added in 1917 of four class rooms and a recreation room in the
Mr. Stout began and ended his career as a teacher in the Webster
School and taught more than a half century.
The School Board selected Mr. Erskine Schooley, an experienced man
in the field of teaching. He was stern and upright in principles and the
education of the youth went forward.
After the junior high schools came into being, the upper grades were
moved out, thus making more room for the small fry.
Time flies fast and Mr. Samuel Long has succeeded Mr. Schooley.
Another world up-set, and Mr. Long and Mr. Stahlman joined the
ranks to defend their country in 1942.
Mr. William Nichols, a veteran teacher, a graduate of Bucknell Uni-
versity with a Master's Degree, has taken over the reins.
What a delightful school to be in these ^ays— movies, birthday parties,
plays, Christmas parties, and all forms of games to help in the teaching of
reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic.
Many teachers gave much service and free time to the education of
the youth in this community and are now retired: Miss Jennie Heilhecker,
Miss Mae Farley, Miss Ida Smith, Mrs. Eleanor Israel, Miss Jane Elliott,
Miss Claire Sullivan, Miss Mabel Collins, and Miss Mable E. Eck this year.
But what about the future for Webster? To meet the ever growing
needs of the West End for the 1957-1958 term, the School Board purchased
the adjoining property, a fine two story brick dwelling whicn is being con-
verted into a modern kindergarten on the first floor and on the second floor
into a music room, a storage room, and a board room.
Good old Webster itself is undergoing changes, too. The unique dis-
tinctive entrance that I have always admired is to be brought to grade level
and the bell tower, with its bell whose tongue has been silenced for the past
twenty years, is to be removed and the installation of an interior fire tower
to replace existing staircases is being done. The whole interior of the build-
ing has been renovated and brought up-to-date, so that Webster's floors,
seats, lighting and heating systems are equal to any of those in the citv.
Modern educators say that after twenty years a building is outmoded,
but not good old Webster who will probably survive her hundredth anni-
ROOSEVELT JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
The original Roosevelt Junior High School, costing a third of a million
dollars, was dedicated November 18, 1921, during Dr. Fred W. Robbin's
Because of crowded conditions in the elementary schools, the building
originallv housed grades one through nine. During the period from 1921
to 1938, as new elementary schools were built, the elementary classes were
gradually removed from the Roosevelt building. Since the opening of the
1938 school term, the building has been used only for grades seven, eight,
and nine. Of the faculty of eleven teachers who taught the original enroll-
ment of three hundred sixty-seven pupils, several are still teaching in the
The educational philosophy of J. Fred McMurray, first principal at
Roosevelt, was reflected in the school motto: "The World Stands Aside for
the Boy or Girl Who Knows." Mr. McMurray was a firm believer in the
idea that schools should serve the community and be used for community
activities beyond the regular school hours. It was under his leadership that
a strong progressive parent-teacher association was developed. Following
Mr. McMurray's sudden death in 1942, C. E. Groover, a member of the
Roosevelt faculty was selected as the second Roosevelt Principal.
Ground was broken for the new million dollar Roosevelt building on
September 25, 1949 and the building completed for the opening of the
1951-1952 school term. The new structure embodies the latest in school
design and represents the combined planning of the board of education,
administration, school faculty and other professional employees of the school
Since the building's opening, it has undergone several changes. First,
Mr. Groover left for a position in the Department of Public Instruction and
Mr. Clair G. Brown, a former Roosevelt teacher, who was serving as prin-
cipal of the Washington Building was selected as the third Roosevelt Prin-
cipal. Second, there has been a dramatic change in enrollment since the
new building was opened: when first opened, the building had 29 teachers,
it now has forty; when first opened, there were six rooms not being used, there
are no vacant rooms todav and the cafeteria is even being used as a home-
room; when first opened, the enrollment was six hundred and twenty, it
is now eight hundred and fifty.
Despite this growth, the Roosevelt Building is still a community school
with such organizations using the school's facilities as the Community Con-
cert Society, the Civic Choir, the Billies, the Williamsport Symphony Or-
chestra and many others.
.^ttmim-»^ ■ Ml
LLOYD'S ADDITION AND SHERIDAN SCHOOL
The beginning ot the Lloyd's Addition Sehool was with the Jerry-
Church purchase oF land east of Academy Street in 1833. In 1850, Abra-
ham Updegraff and Samuel Lloyd bought land north and east, which was
known as Lloyd's Addition.
A log schoolhouse was built on the north side of Sheridan Street east
of Sherman Street. This building is still standing and is the property of
Mrs. Fox. In time, the log building was too small for a school. Land was
purchased at the southeast corner of Sherman and Sheridan Streets and
a new four room building was built. This is now the property of the
Christian Alliance denomination and is used as a church.
At this time, Miss Cora E. Reed, Tom Flack, Anne Marie Mvers, and
Charles Drick were the teachers, Mr. Flack being the principal. Miss Hill
had sixty-eight pupils her first year ant! sc\'cnty-two pupils the second year.
When Mr. C. M. Houseknecht was principal, he went to the School Board
and told them that Miss Hill could only "keep" school, not teach, with such
a mob. The School Board then hired Lou Finkbinder to teach her second
There was only one aisle in a room. Four children sat in a row on either
side of the aisle. When one next to the wall wanted to get out, all the
row had to get up to leave that one out.
The first P. T. A. for the Lloyd's Addition School (by the way, this
was part of Loyalsock Township) was organized February 16, 1911. The
following were the officers:
President Mrs. Annie Airgood
Vice President Miss Estella Shields
Secretary Miss Ida Bowerman
Treasurer Mrs Ernest Lentz
Members of the School Board at that time were:
Mr. W. B. (Bud) Stuart, Mr. John Bird, Mr. Wilbur Kimble, Mr.
Curtis Wheeland, Mr. Joseph Milnor, Mr. Brownell, and Mr. Harvey Bair.
This School Board purchased a plot of land, where the building now stands,
from Mrs. Emma Lewis, widow of William Lewis and the mother of Edward
Lewis, on April 4, 191L They paid $1,000.00 for the land. The building
was completed and was first occupied January, 1913.
The board had quite a time deciding what to name the school. They
wanted to name it the Stuart Building for W. B. Stuart, because of his
interest and work in the erection of the building. Mr. Stuart would not
allow them to use his name, so the name of Sheridan was decided upon
because of the name of the street on which it stood.
During these early days, Miss Eva Keller was hired to come in to
teach Art, as a "special" instructor and Professor Hart, to teach penmanship.
Miss Keller received $12.00 a month for her service and Mr. Hart, $10.00.
These salaries were paid by the P. T. A.
Some of the teachers who taught at Sheridan School quite a long time
were: Miss Cora Reed, Mr. O. W. Mitstifer, Mrs. Ira High, and Mrs.
Glen Royer and "Pop" Miller, the janitor.
In 1923, Sheridan School became part of the Williamsport School Sys-
tem and the boundary line established at that time was as follows:
Charles and George Street, west to Franklin Street, south to Wyoming
Street and midway between Catharine Street and Warren Avenue and
north to the hills.
Miss Cora Reed states that there were many children attending this
school who later became lawyers, ministers, teachers, nurses, public account-
ants, stenographers. Vice President in Electric Companies and one is work-
ing to become Lt. Commander in the Navy, mail clerks in large Post Offices
and mail clerks on trains, manager of hotels and one graduate who is a
missionary in Brazil, S. A. Some are owners of large stores and no doubt
there are many others holding responsible positions that she can not recall.
The Continuation School was one of the most interesting classes held
at George Washington School. The entire life of this school was conceived
and directed by Mrs. Mabel Turner. Mrs. Turner, a retired teacher, has
consented to write the history of these classes.
In 1916, as in 1957, the words "Continuation School" meant only a
question mark to most people, and likewise to me, when Dr. Franklin Rob-
bins, then Superintendent of Williamsport Schools, offered me the oppor-
tunity to try my wings as a teacher of the about-to-be established Continua-
Dr. Robbins explained to me that at the previous session of the Penn-
svlvania State Legislature in 1915, a very excellent Child Labor Law had
been enacted. It was in compliance with the regulations of this law that
Williamsport and all communities in the state employing twenty or more
minors between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, then established one or
more Continuation Schools, depending on the number of said minors em-
Consequently, as soon as arrangements could be made for housing
the school, securing proper text books and supplies, and finding a teacher,
the school was opened:— the date, February 8, 1916; the place, a very small
room, suitable for the accommodation of twenty pupils, on the third floor
of the George Washington School; and the teacher, Mrs. Mabel C. Turner.
Since previous to the passage of the law, there had been no teacher
training program for this type of work, all teachers who planned to teach
a Continuation School were required to attend summer sessions in order
to be certified.
In order to be eligible for employment, young people wishing to leave
"regular" school and to work had to satisfy the following requirements: per-
mission from the parents, employer's statement of employing the applicant,
a doctor's certificate, proof of having completed six grades of school, and a
birth certificate showing proof of age. When the specified conditions were
met, an employment certificate was issued and the child assigned a day to
attend the school. A certificate was valid for only one job and each change
of occupation required a repetition of the procedure. All children working
in Williamsport were required to attend the Continuation School regardless
of their places of residence.
From the small number of twenty pupils a day, because of opportuni-
ties for employment afforded during the duration of World War I, the at-
tendance increased to one hundred eighty pupils a week. The one small
room became two small rooms by the cutting of a doorway, and finally the
removal of the entire partition gave to the Continuation School the space
so sorely needed.
Pupils attending the school were allowed to work fifty-one hours a
week, which time included their school day of eight hours. These eight
hours could be broken into periods of two or more hours on different days;
but because of distances, most pupils and employers preferred one day of
eight hours. The schedule was varied, but usually the day's work began
at eight A. M. with an hour for lunch, and ended at live P. M. Six hours
were used for continuation of the interrupted academic school work and two
for vocational work.
Efforts were made to fit the instruction to the needs of each pupil, the
superintendent giving the teachers much liberty in grouping the pupils,
choice of materials and methods of work. The prinicpal, Mr. MacLaren,
and teachers of the entire Washington School cooperated in making the
Continuation pupils feel that they were indeed a part of the school and its
At the end of the war, when the men returned from overseas, the
school numbered fewer and fewer pupils and was located for a time in
smaller rooms, on the second and third floors. Finally with the enactment
of the National Recovery Act, which prohibited the employment of minors
under sixteen years of age, the Continuation School was legally discontinued
after nearly sixteen years of service to our children employed in Williamsport.
U. S. ARMY
U S ARMY RESERVE CENTER
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HISTORY OF EMERY SCHOOL
520 Park Avenue
The Emery Building was built in 1882. It was named in honor of
Josiah H. Emery, who was then president of the Williamsport School Board.
He was a business man and a financier.
The first principal of record of the Emery School was Charles H. Spotts.
He was followed in turn by the following principals: J. A. Stadden, W. W.
Stiber, George R. Walters, Harry G. Sanders, and Samuel Long who was
principal in 1938 when the school was closed and turned over to the Bethune
Douglass Center, by whom it is still occupied. Mrs. Walter Flemino was
the first president of the Emery P. T. A. which was organized in 1922 and
continued until 1938.
HISTORY OF WILLIAM PENN SCHOOL
"Schule tagen'"*" to the youngsters of sixty-six years ago out on Dutch
Hill, or the eastern section of Williamsport, meant days spent at the Wil-
liam Penn School on Hughes and Penn Streets. This substantial two-
story brick building, erected in 1891, was the pride of the eighth ward.
At that time "Newtown" was a German settlement, and according to
some of the earliest alumni of the Penn School, about ninety percent of the
students were the children of German immigrant families. Presumably,
Germania Street, which is near the school, was so-called in honor of the
little community. Most of the pupils were bi-lingual, speaking English in
school and German at home. As might be expected, the Penn School,
through the years, has had some fine German musical groups.
The first faculty of the school was made up of the following teachers:
Clara A. McCollum, Fannv Steinhilper, Alberta Strine, Delia Maneval, and
Thomas E. Nicholson, Principal.
The Penn Building served as a public school for forty-eight years, then
in 1939, it became St. Mary's High School.
* "Schule tagen" means school days.
HISTORY OF SAMUEL TRANSEAU SCHOOL
On an important morning in September, 1897, the Samuel Transeau
School opened its doors to the children of the Thirteenth Ward. Formerly
these youngsters had hiked across the open fields to attend the "old" Stevens
Building where the Lose School now stands.
The plot of ground on which the Transeau School was constructed ex-
tended from First Avenue to Second Avenue, but the Board of Education, not
realizing the possibility of future expansion, decided that they had acquired
too much land, and they sold some of it as building lots. It is also interest-
ing to note that the Transeau School was the only school in the city which
had grotesque little gargoyles adorning the roof. Since these impish orna-
ments have never served any real purpose, the reason for their existence
has remained the secret of the designer.
Named in honor of Samuel Transeau, the City Superintendent of
Schools, the Transeau School on its opening day had the following teachers
on its faculty: Alice Fuller, Alicia Sigfried, Harriet Lowe, Edith Bevere,
Blanche Balliet, Mary Braine, Janet Ephlin, Anna Watson, and J. A. Kiess,
For fifty-eight years the Transeau School served the community as a
public school, then in December, 1955, it became the Center for the
United States Army Reserve.
WILLIAMSPORT TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
Can Do— the famous motto of the Sea Bees of World War II fame-
fits, equally well, the Williamsport Technical Institute. Since its begin-
ning in 1914 as a small industrial arts shop of the Williamsport High School,
to its present status as a separate unit of the Williamsport School District,
the Institute has proven it can adapt to and meet the demands for trained
manpower, regardless of the situation. In fact, the expansion and develop-
ment of the Institute has been a direct result of this foresightedness and
adaptability. War— peace— depression— all have presented technical training
problems. Over the years W. T. I. has come up with a solution to each
of the challenges— and some of the solutions have gained nation-wide atten-
tion. Dedication to the principle that vocational education should fit itself
to the needs of the individual, the community and the nation has made this
When the present high school was constructed in 1914, a large part
of the shop section was devoted to woodworking. It is apparent that the
large woodworking payroll in the community influenced this planning.
From 1914 to 1920 there is evidence of a high level of activity in the wood-
working courses. Machine shop was the other course offered then. W. R.
Yocum was appointed director of this industrial arts program in 1919.
Following World War I there was the problem of retraining veterans,
the majority being disabled. This led to the establishment of the first adult
day school on a full-time basis. Shop was set up in an old building at the
rear of the Pine Street Methodist Church and the program continued for a
year. Courses open to these veterans included patternmaking, automotive
and electric, with a limited number enrolled in the machine shop located
in the high school.
Concurrent with this program was the organization of the industrial
evening school which has continued to the present day. Enrollment statis-
tics attest to the public acceptance of this program: 1920 figures show 130
in attendance; 1957 has 2050 persons enrolled in a wide variety of courses.
Evening conferences in foremanship training began in 1927, as a
cooperative effort of the school district and the Williamsport Chamber of
Commerce, to meet the demands for supervisors in rapidly increasing diver-
sified industries in this area. By this time George H. Parkes had become
director of vocational education in the city and it was he who organized
and led these early conferences. In the first four years more than 150
foremen from 20 plants took this advanced training. This close cooperation
between the school and local industries is reflected throughout the history
of vocational education in the area.
In the Twenties, a cooperative course of study was set up for students
of the industrial department of the high school. By this plan a student
over sixteen years of age who was proficient in the school shops, was eligible
to receive part of his training in the classroom and part through employment
in a local plant, alternating the two periods. In 1929 there was 48 local
companies cooperating with the school in this training. This program is
still in operation for high school students today who are taking the industrial
vocational course. So sound was the original program that the only notable
change has been the rate of pay; students now receiving a wage comparable
to a beginner in industry, instead of the 20c an hour he earned in 1929.
One of the finest examples of cooperation between the school and
local industry occurred during the depression years. The speed and intelli-
gence with which Williamsport licked the unemployment problem gained
In 1930 the Chamber of Commerce surveyed local industry and dis-
covered that while unemployment was increasing, there was a substantial
and increasing shortage of certain skilled tradesmen. The logical solution
was to retain men from the unemployed ranks to fill these vacancies; and
the logical place to do it was in the high school vocational shops. Early in
1931 the first experimental class was enrolled. The success of this program,
which became known across the country as the Williamsport Plan, was
soon evident. It encompassed cooperative training of CCC and NYA youths.
WPA made its contribution by providing instructors.
This retraining program was no hit or miss affair. Eight coordinators
blue-printed the city's employment situation and students were trained to
fit specific jobs in the community. Data assembled in 1932 indicated a need
for truck drivers. The school borrowed trucks and set up its own training
course, which was the first of its kind in the country. This course evolved
into the present day safe driving course which is a part of many high school
The school made such an impression on the community with its pro-
grams that Williamsport voted, during these depression years when most
school boards were cutting budgets, to build a new vocation building to
accommodate the increased enrollment in both the high school and adult
The adaptability and foresightedness of our vocational education leaders
were never more apparent than when they met the challenge of a world at
war. On May 10, 1940, when the Nazis marched into Holland and Bel-
gmm, a shocked United States began an immediate program of rearmament
for defense. On May 21 the Board of Directors of the Williamsport School
District appointed a special Emergency Training Commission to steer the
local vocational program through the changing times. At the end of the
regular school term on June 14, the school staff made a swift change from
an extensive program of retraining unemployed men and women to an in-
tensive program of training for defense industries. The staff and vocational
facilities swung into a 24-hour schedule to meet the demands of industry.
By this quick action the school was among the first in the countrv, if not
the first, to gear its program to wartime training.
This defense training soon increased adult enrollment to the astounding
figure of 6,500 for 1941. It was in this year that the adult education pro-
gram and the vocational high school program were merged into one unit
known as The Williamsport Technical Institute. Although organized into
one vocational education unit since that time, each has maintained its
own separate program.
Early in 1942 the school entered into an intensified program, in coop-
eration with a local plant and the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Service, for
training handicapped men and women for war production. This program
earned for the Institute a well-deserved reputation for outstanding training
of handicapped persons and led to the establishment of other rehabilitation
programs which are carried on today.
Having demonstrated the value of foresight and preparation in meeting
the demands of war, the Institute applied this same foresight in its plans to
train for peace-time industrial reconversion. Anticipating being called on to
tram war veterans for civilian jobs, and with special emphasis upon ser-
vice to the disabled, the Williamsport Technical Institute was geared to
accept the thousands of students entided to training through G I educational
Even before the G I Bill of Rights was passed in 1944, the school made
plans for training returned servicemen by setting up a scholarship program
in cooperation with several progressive manufacturers. These employers,
taking a long range view, were willing to invest in building skilled workers
for the future. A similar scholarship program is carried on today under
the sponsorship of the Williamsport Vocational Association.
Always one jump ahead of the times the school adopted in 1945 what
is known as the Watsontown Plan, forerunner of the area technical school
which is under discussion today. Under this high school plan students
from area schools, who lack vocational facilities in their home schools, may
spend their two-week shop time at W. T. I. and receive their related classroom
studies in their respective schools.
In 1946 Unit No. 6, a reconverted industrial plant, was officially opened,
bringing the total school acreage to more than 30. This is exclusive of a
large hangar and aviation shop at the local airport and a farm at nearby
Muncy, which has been used since 1946 to train agriculture students. The
aviation shop, started in 1942, was the first in the country to be erected at
Rural Electric Cooperatives in Pennsylvania, looking for a job-training
and safety program, turned to W. T. I. for assistance. Ever alert to such
demands the school set up a program and has provided, since 1947, a full-
time itinerant instructor who visits each cooperative and conducts classes
in first aid, accident prevention, and job training.
Feeling a need for a new, more practical method of vocational counsel-
ing of rehabilitation clients and clients with limited educational or cultural
backgrounds, the school began in 1951 its Vocational Diagnostic Program.
Under this program, the only one of its kind in the country, a client is en-
rolled at the school for a four-week period. During this time he is guided
and counseled in his effort to make an occupational choice. The most
important phase of the program, and the reason' it is now gaining nation-
wide interest, is the job-trial method used. With the unlimited facilities
of the school at his disposal, the client is able to spend two weeks in various
shops and thus test his ability and interest under real, rather than imagined
One of the first groups to make use of this program, along with state
bureaus of rehabilitation, was the United Mine Workers. Through ar-
rangements with the UMWA Welfare and Retirement Fund in 1951,
handicapped miners or their dependents are provided with an integrated
medical, vocational diagnostic, and training service.
The Pennsylvania State Council for the Blind entered a pilot case in
1952 and since that time has made extensive use of this program which has
produced such favorable results.
Upholding its principle that vocational education shoud fit itself to the
needs of the individual, the work-experience program was initiated in 1952.
Under this program any seventh or eighth grade student, who is age 15 or
older, can enter the Williamsport Technical Institute to learn a trade through
shop training; academic subjects meet the minimum requirements. Upon
successful completion of his course, the student receives a high school
The fame of the Williamsport Technical Institute as an outstanding
vocational center has spread beyond the borders of the United States. In
1953 the school was officially approved for the training of foreign students,
although several nations were represented on the rolls prior to this. Edu-
cators from many foreign countries have enrolled at W. T. I. to study our
methods of vocational education in an effort to set up similar centers in their
The most recent demand for trained manpower that W. T. I. has met
is in connection with the Industrial Development Committee of the Wil-
liamsport Chamber of Commerce, which was set up in 1956 to draw new
industry to the city. The decision of several companies to re-locate here
has been attributed to a great extent to the availability of trained workers
from the local Institute. Special courses of study have been geared to
meet the specific demands of these companies.
With such developments as these the Williamsport Technical Institute
under the leadership of Kenneth E. Carl, who succeeded Dr. Parkes in 1952,
is continuing to make its important contribution of furnishing practical voca-
tional training to meet the needs of the day.
J.V. BROWN LIBRARY
6801 9300 390 734 1
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