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Millinocket High School, 1905

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

1901-1923 – Those were the years that Millinocket High School and Common School was the site where most of the rapidly growing population of school-age children were educated. The building had seven large classrooms, a recitation room, principal’s room and a library, though not all classrooms were furnished and used in the beginning. 1901 town report: “We have employed as teachers in the common schools, Miss Adelaide Lynch, who has charge of the pupils in the first grade; Miss Minnie Wheaton, who has the second and third grades; Miss Gertrude Butters, the fourth and sixth grades; and Miss Lillian L. Chandler, the fifth, seventh and eighth grades. In the High school we have Prof. George W. Snow, as principal, and Mrs. F. C. Bowler, as assistant, who also has charge of the ninth grade.” Few high school age children being sent to school at that time.

The report of the superintendent, Feb. 1905, tells of the rapid growth of the numbers of school-age children in town and the difficulty in keeping up with the demands to educate them. “A partition was completed between that part of the original high school room used for the high school and that part which is now used for the fifth and sixth grades. Formerly a sort of partition or rather fence had been built which ran only about half the way to the top of the room, so that the noise was a great nuisance.”

A new “chemical laboratory” was built and more desks purchased which placed a strain on the repair budget. Some doors had shrunk and wouldn’t lock, letting in cold air. Cellar windows had metal guards installed. “The rapid construction of the school,” the report states, “is not tight against the wind and although admirably planned is not of 1st class material and workmanship.” Rain and melting snow “keep the janitor pretty busy with his pails and unless the roof is fixed there will be a rather expensive fall of plaster.”

On the academic side, they “bought enough books for all the grades into which it seemed expedient to place them. This made rather a large hole in our appropriation of $300 for text books. There is no end to the needs of our schools in the way of books, and the question of what and how many to buy must always be a source of slight friction between teachers and superintendent.”

The budget included purchasing spring water during the spring term. “We could not allow the pupils to drink the town water so we had a tank made, and municipal officers filled it each day with spring water. During the summer a well was driven in the cellar, and we are not now obliged to pay anything for drinking water.” That same year they paid less than $800 to local businessmen for coal, wood and the sawing of wood for heat. It was thought to be a large bill.

In those days, there was a fall, winter and spring term. Town reports indicate the number of school-age children in town appropriate for each grade level, average number of those who actually attended during the term, number of weeks in term, name of teacher and wages per week and total wages per term. A set of school census books (1916-1938) can be viewed at the museum along with town reports and yearbooks. A book on the history of Millinocket school buildings may be purchased at the museum!

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