The Evening Sentinel, Friday evening, December 17,
Ceremony at New School Tomorrow Marks New Era in Education in Town of
The dedication ceremony at the new Oxford centralized school
tomorrow at 2 p.m. will be a welcome and satisfying close to the
efforts of scores of the town's citizens to procure a modern building
for their children. The program has been planned to commemorate
these efforts and to give a comprehensive picture of the steps
which made the new building a reality.
The dedication ceremony will open outdoors where Rev. E. G. Zellars,
pastor of the Congregational Church will give the invocation. Judge E.
E. Seeley, chairman of the centralized school building committee, will
lay the cornerstone, giving a list of the contents placed within it and
the Rev. E. Soule, priest-in-charge of St. Peter's and Christ Episcopal
churches, will give the dedication prayer.
The assembled people will then go into the new auditorium where the
second part of the program will take place. This will open with
the singing of "America." William Schreiber, former chairman of
the board of education and member of the board for 20 years, will give
a history of the educational system in Oxford. Judge Seeley will
tell of the steps and effort which went into building the new school
from the time the planning commission was set up at a town meeting,
Nov. 1, 1943.
First Selectman Frederick R. Bice, Jr. will be presented by the keys to
the school by Judge Seeley. Mr. Bice will then present the keys
to Franklyn Sanford, chairman of the board of education, signifying
that the board of education has been given use of the new building.
Message from P.T. A.
Mrs. John Smedley, president, will give a message from the
Parent-Teachers association. Principal speaker will be Mrs. Helen L.
Gilbert, of Norwich, a member of the state board of education. She will
speak on "The Future of Education in Connecticut as Seen by the State
Board of Education."
Rev. Albert A. Callahan, pastor of St. Augustine's church, Seymour,
will invoke the benediction and the program will close with the singing
of"America the Beautiful."
Hubert Stoddard, member of the school building committee will preside
during the program. The committee in charge of the ceremonies includes
Mr. Stoddard, Mrs. Smedley, Mr. Sanford and Principal Richard E.
Among the items which will be sealed in the cornerstone are the
architect's specifications, deed to the school, a program of tomorrow's
affair, a scroll containing the names of the building committee
members, various papers relating to transactions concerning the new
school and a copy of tonight's Evening Sentinel.
Following the program, the townspeople will be given an opportunity to
inspect the new school and to talk with the teachers who will be in
their respective classrooms. Refreshments will be served by the P.T.A.
New School's History
Although specific planning for the new school was begun only about five
years ago, various citizens had made several attempts over the years to
have such a building erected. The board of education had gone on
record as long as 20 years ago as favoring a new school for the town.
At a town meeting Nov. 1, 1943, it was voted to set up a planning
committee to study the town's needs for improvements and to report back
at another meeting. One of the primary items this committee took up was
building a modern school which would house all of Oxford's elementary
grade children. The original planning committee included Judge Seeley,
chairman; Frank L. Allen, secretary; Robert Z. Hawkins; Representative
R. Harold Treat; Merwin Terrell; Mr. Stoddard, Charles Pope and Frances
Funds to purchase the site of the new school in Oxford center were
asked by the committee at a town meeting in August, 1944. In October,
the committee was voted $1,000 for preliminary work connected with
buying the land. At a later town meeting it was voted to purchase the
site for $5,000.
After hearing such a recommendation from the planning committee at a
town meeting April 23, 1945, the townspeople voted to set aside each
year an amount equal to two mills on the annual grand list to be used
for constructing a school when such action was begun. Hope of a
new school in the near future became even brighter in June, 1945 when
the state legislature voted to make funds available to towns for school
purposes under certain conditions.
The planning committee submitted its final report at a town meeting
July 30, 1945, when it recommended that a school building committee be
set up and this committee apply to the state legislature for financial
aid as made available under the new act. This was accepted and the new
committee was named from the floor.
This committee directed all activities concerning construction of the
new school. Its members included Judge Seeley, chairman; Mr. Stoddard,
vice chairman; Mrs. Seccombe, secretary; Mr. Sanford, chairman of the
board of education; First Selectman Bice, Third Selectman Charles Pope,
and Mr. Terrell.
This new committee entered into contract on August 2 of that year with
Brown and Von Beren, Inc., architects, to draw plans for the proposed
building that would meet specification made by the state so that funds
could be obtained to aid in the construction.
In a report to the town, May 6, 1946, the building committee stated
that a tentative grant from the state of $35,700 had been obtained,
subject to certain terms set by the Connecticut public school building
commission and the proviso that construction must start within a year.
Later the state made available a maximum sum of $50,000
to Oxford, effective Oct. 1, 19047.
The building committee asked for bids for construction of the new
school and received four, the lowest $226,000 and the highest
$360,000. These were analyze and the two lowest bidders were
asked to submit other bids with certain economies taken since the
building commission felt the town could not afford even the lowest bid
The lower revised base bid was $208,804. Plans for town offices
in the new building and a colonial tower were dropped from the plans in
order to make the lower price possible. The townspeople at a
meeting Oct. 10, 1947, voted to instruct the building committee to
accept this lowest bid which was made by Fusco and Amatrudo of New
Haven, general contractors. Work began at the school site at the
end of October.
The town also authorized issuing of bonds in the amount of $190,000, to
be paid off over a 20 year period to help finance the new
building. The board of finance was instructed to receive bids for
the bonds. Three bonding companies bid and the lowest bid, received
from Day, Stoddard and Williams of 1.9 per cent, was accepted.
The V and H trucking company of Seymour was awarded the grading
contract. The Stephen B. Church company provided an artesian well for
the new school free of charge. Recent tests by the state of th well
water indicated that the water is excellent in quality.
Recently $3,500 was voted by the town to the building committee to
complete grading and landscaping.
Total Cost over $250,000
The total cost of the new school was $256,412.92, of which $239,712.92
was for general contracts and the architect's bill and $16,700 for
grading, roads and similar items. The school is being paid for by the
$190,000 bond issue, the $50,000 grant and the money accumulated from
the two mills of the grand list set aside each year.
Classes in the new school started Nov. 15. The kitchen and auditorium
have not been ready for use yet, but will be open tomorrow. A total of
230 elementary school children attend the new centralized school.
The school itself is an eight classroom building of masonry
construction complete with work benches, cabinets and a sink in each
room. It also includes a teachers' room, principal's office, health
clinic, toilet rooms, kitchen and a large auditorium and gymnasium
which will also serve as a cafeteria.
Since its completion the school has been visited by a number of
educators who have pronounced it one of the most excellent they have
The building committee also purchased folding chairs for the auditorium
and teachers' desks. A large amount of furniture was taken from the old
schools for use in the new building. However, many of the desks were so
old and so much new equipment was needed that the Parent-Teacher
association was appealed to for aid in raising funds for this purpose.
P.T.A. Raises Funds
This organization responded energetically by setting up a special
equipment committee to solicit funds and equipment. A total of
$3,531 in cash and equipment has been received, of which $1,557.50 was
cash, and $1,973.50 was estimated value of the equipment. Materials for
the health room amounting to over $400 have not yet arrived at the
Kenneth Linke was chairman of the equipment committee. Mrs. Kenneth
Linke was secretary, and Mrs. Harrison E. Miles, Treasures, while T.
Alton Rebe was in charge of publicity.
The new Oxford centralized school replaces six old one- and two-room
schools scattered about the town, five of which were still being used
this fall until the new school opened. With the exception of the
Riverside school, these buildings had no indoor toilets or
Because of these conditions, a number of educational advantages which
most school children have today were not available to Oxford
youngsters. A correlated system could not be used by the teachers since
they were widely separated. N ow that they are under one roof
with the guidance of a principal, methods of teaching reading and other
things can be more standardized so the children will not be confused
going from one teacher to another.
Better health facilities will be available. With a health clinic in the
building the school nurse's work can be put to more efficient and
effective use. The school doctor has agreed to visit the shool in the
event of an epidemic or large number of absences to check the returning
children, a service which could not be performed when the schools were
scattered over the town. The P.T.A. has obtained dental chair from the
state for installation at the school whereas previously the children
had to be taken out of town for dental care.
A sports program will now be available to the children who previously
have often felt left out when they reached high school because the city
children, with better recreational facilities, were further advance.
The auditorium will be used for assembly programs that will benefit the
entire school. One of the most important aspects of the new
school will be that a hot lunch program may now be started because of
the kitchen and cafeteria facilities.
Because of the centralized system, the board of education has been able
to hire a music teacher to visit the school one day a week.
But equally as important as the increased advantages to the elementary
children is the fact that the new school will have community-wide
value. Its facilities will be open to high school and post high school
groups for sports and social activities. The board of education and
centralized school building committee have expressed hopes that the new
building will be a source of pride to the townspeople for many years to