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Opening Day Memories

Opening Day Memories

In September of 1955 Longmeadow High School was ready for its opening day. For two weeks before, the new faculty and administration met daily to meet each other, to organize classrooms, and to stamp books which would be ready for the three classes - Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors. There would be no Senior class that year as the seniors were finishing and graduating with their fellow students in Springfield.

It was a small but eager and excited group of teachers coming from far and wide to make up Longmeadow's first faculty. All were proud to have been picked to begin a school in a town which was eager to have the best for their children.

The very first day, I remember waiting in the corridor overlooking the parking lot and seeing coming up Williams Street a phalanx of bicycles - a Tour de France of our own. A Grassy Gutter filled with bicycles.

Not everything was ready. Workmen were with us off and on for some time but faculty, administration and student body were there and as ready as possible.

The student body was concerned that the new school might not prepare them as well as Springfield Classical had done. This feeling was soon changed when the first tests were marked, some who were used to A's found C's on their papers. This new faculty was ready to teach and to expect much from the students.

There were no chalk boards in some rooms for a few weeks as the finishing touches were still being added. Somewhere in old room 10 there was a Shakespearean quotation written on a blank wall and hidden ever since from view.

As sports teams began to organize it was soon realized that there were no plans for school colors. A committee of faculty and students was formed. In an attempt not to copy any neighboring schools the principal suggested black and white. Being a good Scotsman, Mr. Macfarlane also suggested tartan cloth for cheerleaders and drill teams. And the Jet Jotter followed in this pattern.

Mr. Olivio Lopes, English Teacher, reflections 2005

Early Recollections

It was mid August of 1955 when the original staff for the new Longmeadw High School first came together for a 2 week briefing. Prior to this date the school committee hired Mr. Hugh MacFarlane as its new principal; and along with the existing Superintendent, Mr. Howard Herrschaff, screened multi-applications, and personally observed these finalists in action before committing to a new contract. The original teaching staff of 24 represented only people who were presently teaching with 2 or more years of teaching experience. The cliche for the new staff - “they combed the country-shook the bushes before staffing”.

There was no doubt about the fervor, professionalism, and dedication of this initial staff. They were bound together in a unique professional experience, the opportunity to formulate new policy, educational direction, without the cumbersome obstacle of previous traditions or the old pitfall “we have always done it that way”.

The building was far from finished - workmen and craftsmen populated every area of the new structure. It was very common practice at this time for meetings of the staff to be interrupted and moved to another location for the installation of equipment or the finishing of some construction.

Finally the opening day came and the building was still not in a completed state.  Problem-no desks or chairs. The shipment that didn’t arrive - did arrive on the morning of the opening day, along with the students. The trucks flung their doors open and each student carried in a desk and chair. The staff also pitched in - so you might say the initial problem for the opening day of the new Longmeadow High School was solved mutually by staff and students.

After this exercise the student body assembled outside of the school entrance (the present courtyard) and next to the office area, and Mr. MacFarlane addressed the groups. At this time the first student to officially enter the “hallowed  halls” of LHS was called forward, Albert Mayer, and he entered the building. Albert was the son of the chairman of the building committee, and this was a granted request.

The surrounding environment of the school was indeed dramatically different from that of today. From the very top of the gymnasium only three houses were visible; either due to tree growth or a lack of. The only structure from the high school east to the East Longmeadow town line was the Turner Park Dine and Dance establishment. Scrub-oaks and maples were predominant. The building boom of the 60’s hadn’t arrived and it was virgin landscape.

Excerpt from administrative secretary notes