Hampton Academy and Its Board of Trustees

Hampton Academy & Winnacunnet High School Alumni Association
65th Anniversary, Historic Souvenir Booklet, 1972

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By Arthur J. Moody, Class of '53


The New Curricula

An Academy "Bulletin of Information" was published for 1918-19 which reflected a drastic change in the curricula offered. Courses of study in other than the classics indicated that the Academy was well on its way to becoming a public high school. The new offerings -- made possible in part by the new trust funds -- were readily adopted by the Trustees which included Christopher S. Toppan, who also was Chairman of the Hampton School Board.

The "Bulletin" listed (as did the old "Catalogues") the officers of the Trustees, the faculty and the calendar for the school year (three 12-week terms with Christmas and Easter vacations). Admission at the school was by certificate from the Superintendent or by examination. which was now given on the first day of the Fall Term at "the respective grammar schools." The nonresident tuition was $15 per term, $45 for the year.{*} The rest of the publication is concerned with the three courses of study available. The object of the "Bulletin" was "to acquaint the parents and prospective pupils with the various curricula and courses that this school offers. It also aims to encourage elementary school graduates to continue their education and thus fit themselves to be better citizens." The parents were urged to select the curricula which best suited the aims and ambitions of their child. The "Foreword" concluded with this admonition: "Time is too precious for false starts."{**}

{*Compare this with the $800-plus now charged nonresidents per year for attending Hampton Academy Junior High School (in 1972)}
{**Compare this with similar advice (but addressed to students) in the 1971-72 Winnacunnet High School announcement of courses: "Decisions made by the student regarding the choice of subjects may have a lifelong influence on him. It is extremely important then that the choices be made with due regard to the student's educational and vocational plans."}

The Academy was steadily gaining most of the graduates of Hampton's grammar school (by this time, only the Central District School was offering anything above primary education). In 1910, only 94 percent of the grammar-school graduates were enrolling at the Academy. Two years later it was 86 percent and in 1913, 95 percent of Hampton's eighth-grade promotions were going on to the Academy (the State average in 1913 was only 83 percent).

Under terms of the 1913 Betsey Seavey Fund, the Domestic Arts curriculum, begun in 1914, was offered. The first "Teacher of Domestic Arts" was Miss Charlotte F. Jenne. Household Science, Cooking and Sewing, Household Goods, and Physiology were courses unique to the Domestic Arts curriculum. Standard high-school courses completed the students' studies. The equipment in the Domestic Arts lab consisted of a range, individual oil stoves and tables with cooking utensils, two sewing machines and a dining-room set with place settings. More than half the girls at the Academy took this course of study during the first several years it was offered. A display of the girls' handiwork and proficiency in the kitchen was provided at the annual Fall Exhibit.

The Academic course in 1918-19 contained the classics and the basic studies which continue to he offered to this day. Those enrolled in this curriculum who did not intend to go on to college could substitute Domestic Arts courses for the four years of Latin.

The Agriculture curriculum was introduced fur the 1915-16 school year; later, income from the C.H. Lane gift of 1916 supported it. The basement floor was cemented over, lights installed and equipment was moved in. (Junior High boys also used the woodworking equipment for their classes.) Standard secondary schooling was mixed with such courses in Farming and Manual Training as Horticulture, Carpentry, Agronomy, Forging, Animal Husbandry, Forestry and Road Building, and Farm Management. After Headmaster George H. Bernheisel -- the first teacher of these courses -- left, his successor, Clement A. Lyon (University of Maine '15), taught the courses along with science-related subjects. When Mr. Lyon left in 1919, the Agriculture curriculum was finished for all intents and purposes.

In the mid-1920s, Farm Mechanics was offered but the Manual Training courses were the only subjects to survive. According to the 1918-19 "Bulletin," the Agriculture curriculum's purpose "is to meet the boy whose previous interests have been those of the farm on the ground of those interests, and interpret them to him as a worthy part of higher education. While primarily for the boy who cannot go to college, it also will serve as an excellent preparation for advanced schools of agriculture.... All theoretical work in agricultural subjects is supplemented with practical laboratory exercises. The equipment for carpentry and forging is complete and up-to-date. Two large hot beds give training in early gardening. A Babcock milk tester, churns, scales and charts furnish training in dairying. Home projects are required in horticulture, field crop and animal husbandry. These must he large enough to be worth while and are the real test of a boy's farming knowledge."

The funding of the school in 1918-19 showed a large increase. The teachers' salaries had steadily increased during the inflationary period of World War I. Still, there was a large turnover in personnel due to the reluctance (or inability) of the Trustees to give the teachers all they wanted. Headmaster Lyon resigned in 1919 and his replacement, Russell F. Skinner, left after one year. For 1918, the Academy received $1,000 from Hampton for tuition, $477 (four terms) from North Hampton, $162 (three terms) from Hampton Falls and $132 (two terms) from Seabrook. Investment income was up to $1512, "land" brought in $78 and "other" accounted for $700. In addition, $70 was received from the Hampton School District for the tuition of Junior High pupils going to the Academy for training in the manual and domestic arts, and for French instruction. The school had the vocational-training equipment which the Junior High (vice, "grammar school") did not (it would be three years before those facilities were available in the new Centre School, then in the planning stage). Expenses for 1918-19 were: $4,158, including salaries for four teachers ($3,600), janitorial service ($83), coal and wood ($202), repairs ($116) and other expenses (about $155).

In his report for 1919, Headmaster Skinner categorized the attendance at the High School as "only fair." Apparently, the new heating system was not installed until very late in the year for the "only fair" attendance was blamed on an "improperly heated building in the Fall Term" as well as severe storms and illnesses. He reported that only a few were taking the Domestic Arts course of study (which needed dishes), and that the Agriculture curriculum ("a vocational Smith-Hughes course") was "a problem" inasmuch as the "boys are not farm bred." In his report, Superintendent of Schools Charles H. Walker apologized for having to rearrange the Agricultural course's schedule "two or three times" to quality it for Federal Aid, and mentioned the resultant criticism from North Hampton parents and pupils. (The course was soon abandoned and the Commercial Course was begun.) The Headmaster reported that Manual Arts studies were enhanced that year by the purchase of more tools; 12 individual benches were then available. Of the most popular Academic curriculum, Mr. Skinner recommended that it he upgraded because "too many graduates of the course spend one or two years in further preparation for college." "Recent investigations," he continued, "show that the public High School can fit for college and the standards of the academic course should be raised so that the graduates of Hampton Academy can go directly to college." He ended his report with the comment that "School spirit and the social side of the school need much development."

The 1919-20 enrollment at the school -- which still used "outbuildings" -- was 56, divided evenly between the sexes, with 12 Seniors, 4 Juniors, 16 Sophomores and 24 Freshmen. The Superintendent made 48 visits to the school that year with one visit by Trustees and 16 by others.

The death in 1920 of Horace M. Lane, a Trustee for 29 years, resulted in the election of the first woman Trustee, Flora E. Lane, his widow. Five years later, the only other female Trustee (to date), Vrylena F. Olney, was chosen to sit on the Board. They would serve 20 and 10 years, respectively. Elected a Trustee with Mrs. Olney in 1925 was Fred L. Dow of North Hampton.

In 1921, the last of the small classes was graduated. The Exeter NEWS-LETTER reported that the three graduates, Vivian A. Wood, Ruby A. Wyman and Harlan I. Teague, sat upon the stage at the Town Hall and listened as the commencement speaker, Prof. James A. Tufts, Sr., long time teacher of English at Phillips Exeter Academy, "after a few facetious remarks upon successful trios, making 3 instead of 7 as the mystical favorite number, gave a stirring short address, taking for his subject 'Opportunity.'" After 1921, the graduating classes steadily increased in size from 12 to 21 to 36 to 52 (the largest) in 1957. The cost per pupil (based on all expenses except major capital outlays) at the High School was $85 in 1921. This amount was twice the amount spent on Hampton's grade-school pupils and only a few dollars less than the figure for Portsmouth High School.

Mrs. Esther B. Coombs began, in 1921, as Supervisor of Music at the Hampton schools (including the Academy). She would continue to teach music and direct the choruses and band at the Academy for the next 38 years until her retirement in June 1959. Her son, Rolvin E. Coombs '35, continues to perform those duties at the Academy Junior High and other Hampton public schools.

Headmaster Charles M. Teague (Brown University) reported on the academic year 1921-22 thusly: "We are full to the doors and can truly say that business is booming at the Academy, the citizenship workshop." There were 12 Seniors, 16 Juniors, 30 Sophomores, 28 Freshmen and one "special student" enrolled that year. All 12 Seniors (seven boys and five girls) were graduated on June 16 at exercises in the Town Hall. The next year he reported that the ninth grade had to be removed to the newly built Centre School (it would remain there 18 years until the new Academy is ready). The Centre School, in operation from May 1, 1922, replaced the remaining district schools. Supt. Charles H. Walker reported that the Centre School had taken over grade nine from the Academy at the request of the Academy Trustees; he indicated that it was now part of the Junior High School. Since Academy Teachers continued to instruct ninth-grade pupils, any nonresident tuition due for that instruction probably went to the Trustees rather than the School District. (According to enrollment and awards data published in the Town Report, the ninth grade was still considered a part of Hampton Academy and High School.)

The Centre School was clearly built for the future: nearly one-half the school (the second floor) was unneeded the first years of operation. The seventh and eighth grades' vocational and French students no longer went "up" to the Academy for instruction and now Academy teachers had to go "down" to the Centre School to teach the ninth grade. Mr. Teague reported on the confusion resulting from holding some Academy classes in a separate building and the travelling time wasted by the teachers -- sometimes leaving classes unattended for 10 or more minutes. He proposed two solutions: more teachers to cover both schools was one. "The other is to move our three upper grades to the Centre building and occupy there those for large rooms on the second floor which, with their practically unused newness, brightness and warmth are just calling to be put to their fullest use. I know there is sentiment connected with the old Academy which is laudable and worthy of emulation and which makes it difficult to foresake its halls. May we never forget our Alma Mater no matter how poor and ragged she may become! But when it is a question of the welfare of the children we should put our influence and our money where it will bring the largest returns, not in dollars and cents but in efficiency."

To the Trustees, Mr. Teague's statement in the Town Report must have bordered on heresy. He remained Headmaster but one more year and his final report was not published in the Town Report. However, Supt. Walker held similar views on the situation. He made note of the fact that the Academy enrollment had increased by 63 percent between 1918 and 1922, which was higher than the increase for the elementary-school population. He proposed moving the entire Academy enrolment to the unused portion of the Centre School, noting that only 60 percent of the $90,000 investment (the Centre School) was being utilized.

Writing in February 1922, the Superintendent noted that the entire Hampton school population was nearly 300 and that the four first-floor classrooms in the Centre School together with six second-floor classrooms could supply housing for all 12 grades. With an average of 40 to 45 pupils per room, the Centre School would provide space for 400 to 450 which allows for a future growth of 50 percent. And the 250-capacity auditorium could service the school well. Wrote Mr. Walker: "I realize there will doubtless be considerable objection to the above idea, either on the ground of sentiment for the old Academy, or the possible loss of certain endowment funds: however, I feel it is my duty to point out this possibility of the fullest and most economical use of the new school plant. Such use will save the employment of 2 expensive principals, the running of 2 separate heating plants, and the duplication of a vast amount of expensive equipment for the effective teaching of the different Sciences, including the Domestic Arts. Besides, the work of the Junior and Senior High Schools can he much better correlated and co-ordinated if the two schools are under the same roof." Since the total enrollment would be much less than capacity at the beginning, Supt. Walker proposed that the first six grades use the four rooms on the first floor (an average of 35 to 40 per room) and that four of the other classrooms be used for the upper six grades (an average of 35 per room). One of the remaining two rooms could be outfitted "as a commodious laboratory for physics, Chemistry and General Science" and the other would be for Commercial studies. He felt that the Academy building would make an excellent gymnasium "to fulfill a long felt want" for our boys and girls.

If his proposal was not accepted, he recommended that repairs and improvements be made at the Academy: "Especially should new modern toilets be installed in the present Manual Training room in the basement to replace the old unsanitary outhouse." Mr. Walker's proposals fell on deaf ears. The next year, his last as Superintendent, he reiterated his suggestions and again recommended several improvements and rather extensive repairs to the Academy for the summer of 1923. "At least," he concluded, "new, modern toilets should be installed in the basement as the present toilet facilities are deplorable." In the next few years, rest rooms were installed to the rear of the first-floor recitation room.

In April 1924, the Trustees' record book reflects the rehiring (with pay increases) of the other three teachers for 1924-25 but the only mention of Mr. Teague is: "Moved and Voted that the Supt. (Harry I. Moore) see Mr. Teague and have a talk with him in regard to the school Hampton Academy & High School." For its meeting, the Trustees assembled in the new Centre School; meetings nearly always took place at the Academy.

The new Headmaster for 1924-25 was Russell H. Leavitt who remained less than two years, resigning in mid year to become High School Agent for the State. Mr. Leavitt remained with the State Department of Education and returned to Hampton in an official capacity in 1957 to participate in the ground-breaking ceremonies for Winnacunnet High School - Hampton Academy and High School's replacement.

For the 1924-25 school year, the Hampton School District was supplying over $4,000 for tuition to the Academy. Interest income came to about $2,000 and nonresident tuition amounted to $675. Clearly, students of neighboring towns were going to more spacious high schools. The total spent for teachers' salaries was $4,625, $325 was expended for books and $396 went for supplies. Janitorial services had jumped to $367, new equipment to $249 and repairs to $419. Fuel cost $444 and other miscellaneous expenses totaled about $200. Electric lights and, possibly new toilet facilities may have accounted for the $370 expended for "new construction." Supt. H.L. Moore wrote of 1924: "Work at the Academy is constantly improving. Needed repairs, electric lights, athletic activities, with high standards of effort, have furnished incentive to brighten teachers and pupils. The school is now facing a brighter future and a wider usefulness. The outstanding need still is a closer application that will result in a higher degree of scholarship...."

Many, however, said that the greatest need was a new building. From the mid-1920s on, there was much agitation For a new school to replace the small, 75-year-old building. By asking the School Hoard to house the Freshman Class in the Centre School in 1922, the Trustees had, in effect, admitted that the old Academy building was inadequate and outmoded. But the Trustees' bylaw committed to continue secondary education with the resources available, did not have the means to replace the Academy. And the taxpayers of Hampton had just undertaken the most ambitious school-building program in the Town's history. Thus, the Academy struggled on as before. In January 1926, the new Superintendent of Schools, Charles N. Perkins, wrote after only four months on the job: "It is not too early for steps to he taken to start a building fund for the erection of an adequate building for the use of the Academy. Meantime we must add to our available equipment and maintain the standard of the teaching force." In his report to the Trustees in 1928, he reported: "I beg to call once more to the great and growing need of a new building. We trust that some way may be opened to secure this in the near future." Graduating classes (for example:'29) gave the balance of their class treasury as a nucleus toward a building fund.

Meanwhile, students continued to be graduated. The Class of 1927 - 16 strong - was the second largest to date. According to Sarah Lane (in the NEWS-LETTER), the Class, eight boys and eight girls, was "a well balanced one as to sex, age and ability... "Trustee President Howard Lane distributed the diplomas and Alumni Association President Warren H. Hobbs '96 presented the Alumni Medals to three students who showed exceptional scholarship and extracurricular abilities. The Medals, instituted the previous year by the Association, are continued to this day. The gift to the Academy from the graduates was a "beautiful mahogany 8-day clock." The Class traditionally sang their Class Ode (written by a class member) at the conclusion of the exercises and, later, as invited guests at the Alumni Association banquet. Eleven of the l6 graduates in 1927 went on to U.N.H. or other institutions.

Kenneth E. ("Spike") Tyler (Dartmouth) succeeded Headmaster Leavitt in 1927. In June 1928, Mr. Tyler, accepting the class gift ("a chair for the principal" -- an oak desk for his office was forthcoming the next year), talked on the need for athletic facilities at the Academy -- especially the desirability of a recreation building for indoor winter sports (the first formal Academy basketball team was still 10 years away). He also suggested that "a new Academy building would not be unappreciated."

During the last half of the decade, the Trustees continued to look after the "little things" as well as those considered major. In 1928, they voted to authorize president Lane and Superintendent Perkins to spend tip to $150 "in having the dump filled and beautified." The dump, or trash heap, was located to the northeast of the school near High Street. It can be clearly seen in a 1924 photo of the "Academy's first football team [shown below].

Hampton Academy's first football team in 1924 Front row, left to right: Clarence E. Shaw, Ralph R. Johnson'25, Ralph B. Seavey '25, Arthur B. Collins, Jr. '26, Arnold George, Allan P Skoog '27, and Lawrence E. Keen '25.
Back row: Paul W. Hobbs '25, Edmund Langley, Carlisle E. Moody '27, John T. White '25, Myrle L. Ring '25 and Lawrence E. Tilton.
Not pictured: Philip Nudd '26, Winston Brown, Richard Waters and Coach Clayton W. Johnson '20.
(The house in the background is at 157 High Street, the first house after the Junior High School going east.)
[Photo and caption not in original Alumni text, courtesy of Lane Memorial Library.]

In 1925, the Secretary was directed to "have a seal made for Hampton Academy." And in 1929, the Board paid "a bill for hockey equipment presented by the Hampton Academy Athletic Association." But the High School authorities were "instructed that it is the wish of the Trustees that in future no further bills be incurred in the name of Hampton Academy."

The Fire of 1930

The Trustees, on June 26, 1929, created "a committee to investigate an improved heating system for the Academy and if found acceptable that they be authorized to install same." But seven months later to the day -- on January 26, 1930 -- the old heating plant together with a defective chimney resulted in a fire at the rear of the Academy. The smoke was first noted shortly after noon on that Sunday in January. With snow on the ground and low water pressure, only the lack of a significant wind saved the structure. The Exeter NEWS-LETTER reported the loss at $10,000. The Boston GLOBE related that Hampton Fire Chief Homer B. Whiting and his firefighters had to don gas masks to baffle the blaze. We are told by the Hampton UNION of January 30 that the Fire Department worked heroically to locate the source of the fire -- the smoke being very dense -- and brought it under control in little over an hour's time. Meanwhile, students and townspeople had entered the smokey building to save the books, supplies and typewriters, some of which were thrown from the windows; "only the desks were left to receive the coating of ice which so soon formed." Continued the UNION: "The interior of the structure is a complete wreck with a damage estimated at from $10,000 to $15,000. While everyone wants a new modern school building, all felt very badly to have the old historic school go up in smoke. The books and supplies were moved to the town hall and part to the home of Mrs. Noyes across the street. Monday the teachers and students spent sorting and storing books in the town hall building where the school is to be temporarily located." Although Hampton's Oceanside Grange No. 260 offered its new facilities to the 75 displaced students, the Trustees procured the Town Hall auditorium which was sectioned off (with drapes and other material) for classrooms. Because the Auditorium was thereby in use, the Senior Class Play, "Apple Blossom Time," had to be rescheduled for a later time at the Grange Hall. Meanwhile, the school's hockey team played a scheduled game six days after the fire; the game, in Durham against the U.N.H. Freshman Team, ended in a 1-1 tie.

A special meeting of the Trustees was held at the Town Hall on the day after the fire. Supt. Perkins, Headmaster Tyler and six Trustees were present. President Lane was out of town (probably at his house in St. Petersburg) but an exchange of telegrams was read. The Trustees decided to repair the damage at once. A committee was established to make all necessary repairs, to settle with the insurance companies and to secure the use of the Town Hall for classes. The insurance matter was settled a couple of days later. (About 1927, an additional policy had been taken out bringing the total insurance in force to $10,800 among four policies.)

Only one school session per day was held during the repair period. A repair fund was established. By the end of August 1931, most of the building had been restored. The committee was then instructed to install lightning rods on the Academy and put up a new flagpole.

Perhaps due to the fire and the resultant makeshift facilities, the graduating classes during the early depression years of the 1930s were somewhat smaller than expected. In May 1931, the Trustees voted to engage Bruce E. Russell (U.N.H. and Columbia University) of Pittsfield. N.H. as Headmaster. Mr. Russell, who taught Chemistry and Physics as well as coaching athletic teams for several years, administered the Academy and High School to its last graduation in June 1958. Afterward, he taught at the new high school, Winnacunnet, until his retirement in June 1966 after 43 years of service, 35 of them at Hampton Academy and W.H.S.

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