Learning Continues Despite Changing Circumstances
“Triumph over difficulties” could well be the class motto for the Class of 2020. It was the motto of the Jamestown High School Class of 1935. The Class of 1935 missed some of the traditional parts of the high school years. They did have a Commencement, Baccalaureate, Class Day, Junior-Senior reception, but they did not have a school building to bring them all together in one place to experience the togetherness and some other activities of a class. From the end of the school year in June 1934 until September of 1935, the old high school building was demolished and a new school building was erected on the same site.
As the class of 1935 entered high school as sophomores in September 1932, the old high school building on East Second Street was deteriorating. It was also overcrowded and there were already portable classrooms in use. Discussions about building a new, or even two new, high schools had been taking place for a few years already. The plan in 1932 was to have a platoon system working to relieve some of the overcrowding. Seniors, juniors, and post graduate students were to attend classes in the mornings and sophomores were to attend classes in the afternoon.
Because time spent in the school would be less than in earlier years, students were expected to complete their school work at home. Parents were encouraged to be sure there was a quiet place for students to work at home and to see that the work was carried out. Since all the class members were present in the same school building complex, there could be occasional assemblies for conducting class business such as election of class officers, organizing various clubs and their schedules, production of plays, and planning for the Senior Annual.
As the Class of 1935 advanced to Senior status, more changes were made. Since the high school was demolished in July of 1934, arrangements as to where to conduct classes the next school year were made. First the new Industrial Arts building was to be constructed on land east of College Street adjacent to where the new high school was to be constructed. The plans called for this building to be finished by January and available for classes to be held there.
September 1934 began with the three junior high schools scheduled to house the seniors, juniors, and post graduate students in the mornings. The sophomores, and the eighth and ninth grades would use the junior high schools in the afternoon. Seventh grade students would remain in the elementary schools. To make room for them, four classes of first grade would be at the Mechanic Street school which had been closed the year before.
Those weren’t the only changes made. The high school library had been moved to the old Anderson house at the foot of College Street. In the building across the street and in the Newman house which was just above the industrial building would be where the Home Economics department was to be located. The high school office was moved to the old Blanchard residence on Chandler Street. The Physical Director’s office, part time school, and the opportunity school would be there also.
The old Broadhead Worsted Mill on East First Street became the new home of the industrial arts department. The auto shop, the machine shop, and the electric shop were located on the second floor, while the wood working shop was to be on the third floor. The first floor was equipped with lockers and showers from the old school, and plans called for some sports such as handball, shuffleboard, fencing, and a golf driving range to be held there. The music department and a few classes would use the Norden Club auditorium.
With these plans in place, the Class of 1935 was spread out in many locations, making it difficult to hold class elections, organize clubs, and experience the camaraderie of a class ready to graduate. The second semester did ease this somewhat when the juniors and seniors moved to the new factory-like industrial arts building that had been completed. Temporary walls had been installed creating classrooms. It was soon realized that there had been no plans to have a senior annual.
This was quickly remedied as an advisor was recruited and a staff was organized. The yearbook for the Orphan Class is smaller than the ones before and after but they did have a yearbook which included a few pictures of the numerous buildings of the “Orphan Asylum”. There were no pictures of the Sophomore Class, no faculty photographs, and no advertisements from local businesses in support of the annual as in other years.
The JHS Class of 1935 had a very different senior year than most senior classes before and after them. One change that was made was having Class Day in the evening with the hope that it would continue in the evening in future years. The Class of 2020 is also experiencing a very different senior year but with many innovations to substitute for the traditions of their school. Maybe some of those changes will continue for many years as new traditions.