Each month, SAM will share a story from our archives in our e-newsletter.
EDUCATION (posted January 2019)
In 1889, the local Board of Trade published “Advantages, Resources, and Attractions of St. Albans, VT.” It highlighted local industry, prominent citizens, and social life in the village. Regarding education, they wrote:
“NOT the least notable feature about St. Albans is its excellent public school system. In 1851, by action of the School Meeting, Districts 12 and 4 were consolidated. This was the origin of what is now styled Union District No. 4, or the St. Albans District. At the same time, an arrangement was made with the trustees of the Franklin County Grammar School by which all pupils within the new District were admitted to the privileges of the latter institution.
In 1872, compelled by changed conditions and the growth of the village, the present stricter grading was introduced, under Prin. T. A, Kinney, and the schools, previously scattered in numerous small buildings, were consolidated in the two large buildings now in use.
The work below the High School covers nine years regularly, though about an equal number require, respectively, ten and eight years to complete it. The completion of this work presumes that the pupil has a good knowledge of Arithmetic, Grammar, Geography, Physiology, and History of the United States, and that he may profitably enter upon the higher studies.
The Primary teaching is notably good. Many are inclined to consider this department secondary to more advanced ones, but in these schools it is expected that the teacher of Primary work shall be a specialist as much as the High School teacher.
The teaching of Music has been in charge of a special teacher for over three years and strong effort is being made to bring this department up to the standard of good city schools.
The Franklin County Grammar School
More familiarly known as the St. Albans Academy, was incorporated in 1799 as a school for boys. It has undergone numerous changes to keep pace with advancing sentiment and knowledge, and tries to be “in touch ” with the best thought of to-day.
In 1847 the Grammar School became intimately connected with a blooming young Female Seminary, which intimacy, after mutual concessions, ripened into a union — hence the modern Academy. Increasing needs culminated in the erection of the handsome three-story building, of which we present an engraving, in 1860-1, at a cost of about $25,000. This is beautifully situated on the east side of the Park — sometimes called the “quiet side,” as it is given up to three churches, the Court House and the Academy. By the terms of the lease of the lot upon which this building stands, the District binds itself “to provide capacious and convenient rooms, free of rent, to accommodate at least 100 students, for the exclusive use, occupancy and control of the trustees and their successors in office.” Thus the Academy inherits the “good-will and fixtures” of the old Grammar School, receiving in addition, all the privileges of a High School maintained by taxation and independent of its tuition fees. The Academy was formally installed in the new building in 1862, and, compelled by increased attendance, removed, in 1878, to the third- floor room formerly used as a town hall.
Four years of Latin, three of Greek, three of English, three of French, three of Mathematics, with the usual science, constitute a pretty strong course— one recognized by Williams, Dartmouth, Wellesley and other Colleges as an adequate preparation for College. The attendance has been well sustained under the present Principal, Mr. F. H. Dewart, the enrollment for the current term reaching an even hundred — probably the largest in the history of the school. Fifteen pupils were graduated last June. Many teachers are prepared for their work here. The Fall term’s work is especially adapted to their needs. The instructors have been selected to guarantee scholarship (being graduates of Wellesley, Vassar and Harvard), and teaching ability.
By a recent arrangement, the Principal of the Academy has been appointed Superintendent of Schools, and he divides his
labors equally between the two. This bids fair to help toward the organization of the work and to lead to a unity otherwise impossible.
The charge of all school business is in the hands of M. Magiflf, Superintendent of Telegraph C. V. R. R., H. E. Bentley, Traveling Auditor of the same road, and F. F. Twitchell, of the well- known dry goods firm, mentioned elsewhere. It is readily seen that these are three typical business men. Their qualifications for the responsible position, however, could scarcely be better, as is evinced by the prosperity of the schools, and the general satisfaction of the citizens.
With characteristic American intelligence, the people of St. Albans have not thought it true economy to stint the appropriations for maintaining the schools. The best committee men, teachers and apparatus reasonably obtainable have been thought none too good. Naturally, this has reacted in favor of the village. Good schools as a recruiting agent are second to none. Every year sees numerous families added to the population, drawn by the opportunities afforded for giving the boys and the girls a start in life. And what better class of citizens can be found than the self-respecting parents who are anxious to do their part toward leaving behind them worthy substitutes who may perpetuate the sturdy independence and earnest patriotism of the Green Mountain Boys?”