A School for All Seasons
The very first school in Huntsville was established in the home of Captain George Hunt (John Street). As the population increased, a schoolhouse was built near the present day location of Fairvern, where there was one female teacher and a headmaster. Soon the attendance increased to the point that only those that got to school early enough in the morning got seats!
A decision to build a two-storey frame school was reached in January, 1887. The total cost was $1,600. And the building was located on the corner of Caroline Street where the library and rooms 206, 201 and 207 are presently situated. This school had 6 classrooms, a dug well and outhouses. Eventually, this school was closed but used as Huntsville’s first museum.
In 1904, a large three-storey brick structure was built on the opposite end of the school grounds. It was both an elementary and high school. Mr. A.C. Bernath was principal of Huntsville Public School from 1900 until 1937. His duties included the “West End” school that opened shortly before 1900, as well.
In 1950, a separate High School was built on Brunel Road and the old town school remained an elementary school. Because of deteriorating conditions and overcrowding, the present Huntsville Public School was constructed was in 1967 under the principalship of Mr. Jack Laycock.
During the 1970’s Huntsville Public School had a population of 650 students, a full-time principal and vice-principal plus 30 teachers. It is interesting to note that all students walked to school and the school was closed from 12:00 to 1:20 pm for lunch. Everyone went home.
Those were the days when decisions regarding the students and staff were made entirely by the principal. Should Mr. Laycock feel that January of June temperatures was making classrooms unbearably hot, then students were sent home! The same was true about cold or bad weather days in the winter. Another policy allowed a hardworking class to be rewarded by dismissing them a half hour early at the day’s end. How times have changed!
Marjory Earl, former HPS Staff