Page 17 - Wallingford Magazine Holiday 2019
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That growth also explains while moving only once during my school years, I attended Washington, Yales- ville, Moses Y Beach, Robert Early, Moran, and Lyman Hall schools. Some of my classmates based on their residence even attended Lyman Hall High School in the eighth grade side by side with all high schoolers. In addition, double sessions became the norm for a few years as school building activity struggled to keep pace.
As I reflect on those years, I feel attending so many schools a bless- ing. It presented the opportunity to get to know other students from town. By the time I entered Lyman Hall in 1962 for my sophomore year, I probably knew over half of my Class of ’65 classmates.
To me, it was a positive oppor-
tunity in contrast to the concerns raised by today’s parents when towns change school districts based on enrollment. To me the diversity and experience of getting to know so many classmates had a posi- tive effect in my development.
This reflection gave rise to this Wallingford school history article. My first thoughts were blind- ed by my paradigm that many of the schools I knew during my youth but are now gone, such as Whittle- sey, Washington, Simpson, and Colony Street, must have been the foundation of today’s system. My re- search indicated these schools, although ancient in my mind, really represented well past the mid-point of Wallingford schools’ timeline arc. To paint a true picture of school history, I had to go back centuries, not just decades.
This article will be in two parts. The first covers the period 1670-late 1800s. The second will cover the 1900s to present day with a special focus on the rapid expansion of the school system caused by baby boomers.
I welcome reader input based on your knowl- edge, experiences, or memories of the Wallingford school system. Hopefully, this article will jar a mem- ory of a parent, relative, or fact that played a role in the schools’ development. For baby boomers, I’m sure there are stories you have about your Walling- ford school days during the rapidly changing 1950’s and 1960’s school landscape.
One of my experiences now amazes me al- though at the time, what did I know? While I did not
go miles to school bare foot through 20-foot-high snow drifts, at age five, I did walk by myself from my home adjacent to the PNA Park to the then Washing- ton Street School on the corner of Quinnipiac and Washington Streets to kindergarten. That’s 1.2 miles all by my lonely self. I cannot imagine or encourage any parent to let their five-year-old child walk this distance to kindergarten. But back then, it was an adventure and built my self-reliance, even though I did not know what self-reliance was. I just had to make it on my own.
The Beginning Centuries 1670-1900
In the mid-17thth century, Wallingford’s foot- print included what is today Wallingford, Cheshire, Meriden and other neighboring regions. When Wall- ingford was settled in 1670, the responsibility for teaching children to read and write fell to the par- ents simply since no schools existed.
In 1650, the Connecticut General Court code of laws established the importance of common schools. Every township with over fifty household- ers was to establish one within their town to instruct the township’s children how to read and write.
The schoolmaster wages were to be paid by either the parents or by the township or both. By 1677, Connecticut General Court added yearly fines of up to 10 pounds to incentivize townships to hire a schoolmaster. [Roughly $10,000 in today’s dollars].
In 1679 Wallingford leadership agreed to pay an Ensign Munson to teach the town children. His pay was established as one shilling and eight farthing
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