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This Day in Norwood History-May 24, 1890-Dedication of Norwood’s First High School, The Beacon School

NORWOOD TAKES ANOTHER LONG STEP FORWARD,

A BEACON OF LIGHT FOR THE CHILDREN.

May 24th, 1890

SPEECHES By John W. Dickinson, Rev. A. E. Winship,

OTHER INVITED GUESTS.

After nearly 18 years of patient, and inpatient waiting, Norwood’s proudest hope has been realized. It has been a long time to wait for a thing we have needed so much, but an examination of the structure just completed shows to the right thinking mind that we have not waited in vain. A building not only handsome to look upon but containing all the requirements of a first-class high school, tasty and it’s interior design, of superior workmanship – a monument of education that shall speak volumes to the children of our beautiful town.

At 2:00 a goodly number of representative people assembled in the main room to hear the dedication exercises. The following is the program:

Hymn by the Universalist Church quartet; Invocation by Reverend A. L. Loder; Report of the building committee, and delivery of keys to school committee; Hymn by quartet: Addresses by J. W. Dickinson, Secretary of State Board of Education; Reverend A. E. Winship, of the Journal of Education; short speeches by Reverend C. S. Nickerson, Honorable W. E. Locke, and Reverend Theron Brown.

Mr. F.O. Winslow of the Building Committee, submitted the following report:

On the 4th of March, the town of Norwood chose a committee consisting of F.O. Winslow, Tyler Thayer, Edmund J. Shattuck, Edward B. Morse, and T J Casey, with full power to select a lot of land and erect a high school building thereon, appropriating $14,000 for that purpose. This was with the understanding that the building should be finished and ready for occupancy at the beginning of the fall term. After a careful inspection of all available locations, the committee was successful in negotiating with Dr. F M. Cragin for a large strip of land extending from Walpole Street to the land of John E. Smith, containing 85,893 feet of land at a cost of $8,000. The land was divided into three lots, the northern was sold to John E. Smith, the southern to F O. Winslow, and the central lot containing 23, 272 feet was retained at a cost of $2,167.62 and is the ground upon which this house now stands. An additional lot to due west was bought of J E. Smith, making a total amounting to $2,829.73.

We desire to make special mention of Mr. Tyler Thayer in this connection, for to his personal efforts more than any other we are indebted for this excellent site named by him Beacon Hill in front of which runs Beacon Street, join an extension of Bullard Street as a northern boundary.

Mr. J. Williams Beal was engaged as architect and on April 27th he submitted sketches which were afterward developed into a proposed building and bodying the essential features for a model high school. It was ornate without, and spacious within, and seemed to a majority of the committee to be the building for the place. The plans were accepted, and estimates obtained which proved that the building could not be constructed without exceeding considerably the appropriation at the disposal of the committee. It was attempted to reduce the cost by changes, but it could not be done without injury to the structure. A strong and increasing opposition was now manifested to the plans as submitted by the committee. Petitions, signed by many of our wealthy and worthy citizens, requested that a two full-story building should also be constructed, sufficient for all the requirements of a high school building and the second story, and room also for a grammar school on the lower floor. It was assumed that this could be done with a slight additional amount of money, and the whole accomplished without exceeding the 11,000 left after paying for the land.

Long consultations were held by the committee night after night to solve, if possible, the problems which were presented, and harmonize upon some plan which would be satisfactory at all. Should it be a high school building, adopted for its purpose, and for its use exclusively? Or should it be a building to be used in the upper story for a high school and the lower story for grammar or primary school? Neither could be built without largely exceeding the appropriation, and the plan we had could not be reduced to the satisfaction of the committee. It was therefore agreed to abandon the plan, settle with the architect and begin anew.

The subcommittee, consisting of E. J. Shattuck and E. B. Morse, was chosen to secure new plans. The plans of Mssers. Rotch & Tilden were finally selected, and the result is manifest in the building as erected and presented for dedication. The carpenter work, and trusted to Walker and Goodwin, has been most thoroughly done and is an honor to the town.

Chairman Hill and receiving the keys said he was glad to get them, for he had waited a long time for them. Was glad to see the children of the high school present, and regretted that the selectman were not.

The Beacon High School

He viewed the growth of the high school idea, now 18 years old; and said this building now completes our school system.

Mr. J W Dickinson was then introduced among other good things said :

“I came rather to listen and to see what had been done. This is an important occasion – an important means of promoting education. Causes have living agents, such as committees, superintendents, teachers, and children. Agents must build schoolhouses. No good work can be done in a poorly constructed building. We cannot tell the mischief done in some of our schoolhouses by poor ventilation. The speaker here paid a high tribute to the Smead system of ventilation used in this building. A building should not only have convenience but beauty also. Minds of children are affected by what is beautiful. By association of ideas, we become attached to the original. When children begin to love beauty in human conduct they become better children. We are looking now for higher results. High schools teach not only knowledge but where more knowledge can be obtained. The mind is trained. When I attended school we learned everything from books. We studied botany without plants. Now it is different. I hope the teaching of this school will be such that children will obtain knowledge through the independent use of their own powers. I hope they will go out able to take care of themselves. I am delighted that people here have turned their attention to high school matters. Since the founding of Harvard College, its influence has been felt throughout all the grades of school work. This town has made a good investment. The intelligent man settles where he knows the schools are in good condition. I am glad your high school is to be distinct .”

Diagram of the Smead Ventilation System (by
 Smead & Northcott, 1896)

The following extracts are from the address of Mr. Winship :

“The dedication of the high school house, commodious, convenient, and comely is the most significant event that occurs in the modern New England town. There are crises in the affairs of town as in the affairs of men. Men make towns, not circumstances. Study closely the great towns of the West, those that have sprung suddenly or developed gradually into mighty cities, and those that have failed to fulfill their early promise. In what lies the success of the one and the failure of the other? Did location make Chicago, Kansas City, or Denver? Only so far as brains and personality availed itself of the location. Men with their intellect in personality have made every city and town that has a record in this broad land. Know that men to whom a community listens in deciding its affairs and you know whether the community is to have a great future or not.

The union was preserved because the nation listened to Sumner and Seward, Lincoln and Douglas, rather than to Greeley, Voorhees, and Valandingham. The world always has advisors that face the rising and the setting sun. The virtue and the blame do not, however, rest with these leaders, but with the rank and file, whose votes, sympathy, and support go with those whose policy is accepted. Every community and every issue has able leaders on both sides. The people go where and with whom they please.

This school building is here today, not because of any one man, but because the heart of the people is with it. No event in this community since you voted to be a town by yourself has signified so much as those who cluster about this building. There are those who criticize the idea of a high school education at public expense. There are those who recall the fact with variations that 4/5 of the children never complete the grammar school course, and therefore ask that we adapt our system of education to the multitude. This is so specious that we can but wonder what more do not adopt it, but the heart of the people is always right and is secure against the tricks of sophistry. One such event as the dedication of a beautiful high school building, voted and paid for by the people, cuts for more than all the talk against higher education that is heard in a town for 20 years.

The part of wisdom, justice, and patriotism is to provide the highest educational privileges and inspirations. Not that all will avail themselves of them, but that some may. Not every blossom matures into fruit, but we do not propose, therefore, to cut all the blossoms from our pear, plum, and peach trees, and consent ourselves with the beauty while lusciousness is possible. The primary and grammar schools are the Bloom of the educational system: the high school is the fruit.

There are those who claim it to be for the interest of the shop to focus our school system for those who are to leave school at 13 years of age. This is what England does. Her schools are so focused that the child of the labor takes one course, and the child of wealth and position another. There is no way for a child to have started in the line of the labor’s child to aspire to an education that will fit her inspire him to anything more. The glory of America is that as you look upon a hundred boys and girls in the primary and grammar schools, you can never tell by their countenances, their speech, their dress, their homes, which are to be the 20 who will go into the high school. The child of the poorest man stands almost as good a chance of being there as the son of the man of wealth. Harvard’s highest prize this year was given to a poor colored boy, and her highest class honor has gone to another poor colored boy.

America is tempting a half million foreigners each year to her shores because there is a chance here for their children to know and be more than they could in any other land.

There is an atmosphere in every primary school in this town that could not have been but for the high school. The tree feels a thrill and branch, trunk, and root that it could not but feel for the leaf and bud and bloom. Thus does the high school by its drawing power throw the life of the American primary School as the life of the English primary school cannot be thrilled. If a boy does not attend, is there any ambition in him he will do the best he can to make it, less good. The high school is not only an inestimable blessing to the individuals but it is vital to the security and permanent prosperity of the nation.

All the problems of the world are in this nation. We must solve them or they will solve us. The school must bear an active part in this. But it will not be the primary and grammar schools alone, except as they are inspired to know something more than to read, write, and cipher. And the days of our fathers it did very well to talk about the “little red schoolhouse” but today it must be something more than that. It must be a high school for the individual, for the honor and respectability for the town, for the security and permanent prosperity of the nation, for the solution of the problems of humanity. There is no time lost in keeping a boy away from business until he is 18. 19/20 of the boys that leave the school and go into offices and stores at 14 drift and shift about until they are 18 before they get into the place whereas boys begin in the store and which they are to stay. It is the worst of wasted time and energy that the boy puts into business before he is 18 and he does not get so much for it as he pays for fares and lunches.

It may be an open question whether the average boy can make it profitable to go to college or the Institute of Technology. There is little chance for question regarding the profit there is to every earnest boy and girl who will attend the high school. The lower schools supply the intellectual necessities of life. The high school furnishes comforts and makes possible great usefulness and personal prosperity. The years from 14 to 20 are the character-forming years.”

The speaker closed an eloquent address by giving a glowing account of the advancement made throughout our country during the past 25 years.

Just as the exercises were about to close Mr. F. O. Winslow asked to say a word to the scholars, and in his inimitable way told them how several little surprises had been planned for them – just for them. The ” little things ” referred to deserve more than passing mention. The whole gas apparatus, globe, Atlas, clock, revolving bookcases, encyclopedias, etc. were the gift of Mr. Winslow. The children cannot fail to appreciate such generosity.

On freedoms cornerstone,
Fair science builds her throne.
Till time shall end,
Her power and fame increase,
And freedoms climb and peace,
Where songs that never cease,
To heaven ascend.

Here by her sovereign name,
This house of calmly frame,
Today we call; and pray our temple new,
Shall prove her kingdom true,
Where wisdoms words like do,
In love shall fall .

Great teacher of mankind!
Here may our children find,
Thy favor and smile,
Life’s earliest knowledge read,
Truths gentlest voices heed,
Nor vice or word or deed,
Their souls defile.

– Reverend Theron Brown.

In giving report of the new, it will not be a miss to give place to the following hymn which was sung at the last session held in the old brick schoolhouse in 1851:

We’ve gathered in our peaceful home,
we’re learning’s joys are found,
The farther in her past we roam,
The more these joys abound .

Chorus – oh, old school room,
No more our home to be,
Will never forget to go where we will,
The good we’ve learned in hee

We’ve gathered here for many years,
Our tasks conned o’er and o’er,
And something brings the silent tears,
To think we come no more

Chorus

Tis said that our own handiwork,
we are all prone to prize,
So battered walls, and broken desks,
Are dear unto our eyes

Chorus

They reared us up and fairer hall,
Those ever good and kind,
we trust that in the hearts of all,
A recompense they’ll find

Chorus

And so we sing a farewell song,
Where no more shall dwell,
Some kindly spirit guard thee long,
Old school room, fare the well

Chorus

(All articles were originally published in the Norwood Messenger unless otherwise noted)

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