A Concise Historical Outline of the Progress of Our School
The Emerald 1961
Note: The author of this yearbook article is currently unknown. The article appeared in the 1961 Emerald yearbook. Most of the text seems to be a summary of an article contained in the Minerva Historical Society's book:
Minerva 1817 - 1967: A History of a Town in Essex Co., N.Y.
The first residents of the Town of Minerva were interested in education as are residents today. This fact is known, for records mention a meeting held April 8, 1818, in the schoolhouse belonging to Alfred White.
Records also reveal on July 17, 1819, residents met in the schoolhouse of the First District, and on July 31, in the schoolhouse of the second district.
Eventually, thirteen Districts were formed in the Town, but as the population dropped from over 1100 in 1880 to about 600 in 1930, schools were gradually closed; and at the time the drive for a high school in town was begun. Only six of the original Districts (Olmstedville, Minerva, Irishtown, Aiden Lair, Leonardsville, and Ridge Street) were holding school. Regent’s preliminary examinations, however, were conducted at Olmstedville only.
The first High School Department in the Olmstedville School District was organized in 1922. Then, the school was known as Olmstedville Union School. The buildings of that day were a two-room school, which is the present Richard Blackburn residence, and St. Onge’s Hall. The two-room school was enlarged in 1924 to contain all grades. Joseph Keenan was the first principal of Olmstedville high school, and Irene Spellman, Helen Shanahan, and Kathleen Sullivan were the other members of the Faculty. Joseph Keenan and Helen Shanahan taught High School subjects. Children walked to and from school because there were no buses at that time.
During that period the first school basketball teams of Olmstedville were organized. The Gymnasium was Murphy’s Hall in Minerva; and on nights of practice, the players gathered at John Sullivan’s store, Olmstedville, to start their three-and-one-half-mile trek to practice.
In 1925, Philip Fitzsimons was engaged as Principal and served as such until his retirement in 1955. Other faculty members in 1925, were M. Mazuzan, High School; F. Mazuzan, grades 5, 6, 7, 9, and S. Romanelli, grades 1, 2, 3, and 4.
A Central School District was formed in 1931, which comprised Aiden Lair, Irishtown, the Gore District, and Olmstedville. Within a few years, the Minerva School Distinct also joined.
The year 1937 found the students enjoying a new building, for, in that year, the present school building was completed. How large it seemed in those days! It even had a gymnasium, and that meant no more walking to Minerva to practice basketball.
But time marches on, and the building that once seemed so huge, and roomy can’t accommodate the present curriculum needs. Therefore the construction is underway on an addition to house more classes. Also, a bus garage is being built adjacent to the school.
Today, only memories remain of the rural schools of Minerva. A Central School has replaced them and is expanding to meet the needs of the present and god willing will continue to grow to meet the needs of the future.