Public Schools: The People

Chapter 21 -- Part 3

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It is the people -- whether the citizens of the town, the elected officials, or the school administrators and teachers -- who have guided the course of education in Hampton since the beginning, and the people will continue to do so. The Hampton educational system owes much of its excellence to the countless unnamed and unpaid (or underpaid) citizens who devoted, and continue to devote, many long hours of their time as members of budget, building, or study committees, or as trustees or board members.

As in any other town, the teachers are the mainstay of the educational system at Hampton. Hampton has had an abundance of dedicated teachers long remembered by the students they taught and acknowledged by a town grateful for their services in the cause of educating its youth.

Through the years, special awards have gone to many of these teachers. But each would probably be the first to admit that those awards were evidence of the pride held and appreciation expressed for many unsung teachers -- teachers whose unstinting efforts bore fruit in the accomplishments of students they educated, encouraged, and inspired.

One of the most beloved of all Hampton teachers, and one who taught among the longest, was Adeline Copeland Marston. Miss Marston, born in 1883, was chosen valedictorian of her class and then taught in Hampton elementary schools for 47 years, from 1907 to 1954. On June 14, 1954, in recognition of her years of teaching, a testimonial, sponsored by the Hampton PTA, was held for her in the Centre School.

Miss Marston died in 1963, but not before she had helped, on February 3, 1957, to dedicate Hampton's newest elementary school, the Adeline C. Marston Elementary School. (The 12-room school had opened for classes in January of that same year.) Fortunately she lived to see that mark of appreciation from the town and its citizens for her long service.

Another much-beloved teacher, and one also with long tenure, was Mrs. Esther B. Coombs, supervisor of music. Through the years, Mrs. Coombs provided thousands of pupils with a deep appreciation of music and left an indelible mark on the town. She began in 1921 and continued to teach music and direct the choruses and the band at the academy for the next 38 years. The influence of her wide-ranging activities in supervising musical instruction and extracurricular music activities in Hampton, as evidenced in the annual school reports, is almost impossible to overestimate.

A graduate of Salem Teachers College, Mrs. Coombs was one of the founders of the New Hampshire Music Festival Association and a charter member of the New England Festival Association. Through her efforts, the state group held its fifth annual Music Festival at Hampton Beach on May 19-20, 1933. This was followed by the tenth annual New England Festival held at Hampton Beach the next year. Still another music festival was held at Hampton Beach on May 9, 1959.

Mrs. Coombs retired in June 1959. Her son, Rolvin E. Coombs, then continued her work at the Hampton Academy Junior High and other Hampton public schools.

Another Hampton teacher who shared with Mrs. Coombs a deep love of music was Arthur C. Sears. Sears came to Hampton in 1924 and for 1 1 years was an instructor and principal of the Centre School. During his years in Hampton, Sears became the originator and first director of the Hampton School Band.

Both Miss Marston and Mrs. Coombs were among 11 persons who received "Oscars" at a ceremony in 1957 dedicated to citizens and teachers of Hampton as a part of the 100th anniversary observance of the National Education Association by the Hampton Parent- Teachers Association. Cooperating with the PTA were the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Hampton Teachers Club.

In addition to Miss Marston and Mrs. Coombs, the recipients included Mrs. Deborah G. Bryer, honored for her work on what was then the State Board of Education, and Roy W. Gillmore, honored as superintendent of Supervisory Union 21 (he had retired the year earlier, in December, and had 41 years of service to education in New Hampshire, the last 26 spent as Union 21 superintendent).

Also honored with an "Oscar" that evening were Dean B. Merrill, who served 18 years on the School Board; Mrs. Margaret Noyes, in recognition of her 26 years of service as librarian; Bruce E. Russell, who had served as the principal of Hampton Academy since 1931, or for 26 uninterrupted years (he retired in 1958, extending that span to 28 years); Elsie Bartlett; Thelma Cummings; and Helen Brown.

Another teacher honored that evening with an "Oscar," and known to thousands of Hampton students, was Clifford W. Eastman, Sr. Eastman was honored for his outstanding devotion to teaching and his sincere interest in promoting athletics at the junior high level during his 28 years as a teacher in Hampton. In the school report for the year ended June 30, 1932, for example, the principal of the Centre School, Arthur C. Sears, paid tribute to Eastman's role in the "success of the boys' athletic activities during the year," with the baseball team having "an especially successful season."

From the beginning, the citizens of Hampton have on the whole generously supported the education of local youth. In the early years, this took form in generous donations and bequests from prominent alumni.

One of the most generous of the early benefactors to Hampton education was Edward Tuck, the son of Amos Tuck, whose father, John Tuck, was a direct descendant of Robert Tucke, one of Hampton's first settlers in 1638. Both Edward and Amos were graduates of the academy. Before Hampton Academy and High School became a public school, Edward Tuck generously aided the school, and for almost every year in the early 1900s, the school report included a statement that the academy would "have to again appeal to the generosity of Hon. Edward Tuck, who has so liberally helped in the past."

But for the money he gave to the school, it might not have survived. The annual report for Hampton Academy and High School for the year ended February 20, 1900, for example, noted that "We gratefully acknowledge the donation of two hundred dollars from Mr. Tuck, which has enabled us to paint the building ...... And in 1907, it was reported that through the "kind aid of Edward Tuck, Esquire, the school is now well equipped with apparatus both in chemistry and physics."

In 1927, Edward Tuck contributed $10,000 for the development of sports facilities on Town-owned land "for the use of the youth of Hampton." On June 4, 1930, Tuck Athletic Field was dedicated; after Tuck's death in 1938, the name was changed to Tuck Memorial Field. Edward Tuck also established the Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance at Dartmouth College.

The Lane family also made -- and continues to make -- significant contributions to Hampton public education through its gifts and bequests. Joshua Lane, the patriarch of the family, whose picture hangs in the Lane Memorial Library, attended Hampton Academy between 1845 and 1850. When he died in 1908, a $1,000 fund was presented to the trustees in his name.

One of Joshua's brothers, George, served as an academy trustee for 21 years; another brother, Charles, presented significant bequests to the academy. Charles had a deep interest in Hampton Academy, and a trust fund was set up by his heirs in 1921 to carry out his wish to do something for the school.

Charles, who died in 1920, had also established other trust funds for townspeople, including a second one, the Charles H. Lane Trust Fund, for Hampton Academy. It consisted of 100 shares of American Telephone and Telegraph Company. The Lane Christmas Tree Fund was established to buy Christmas gifts for Hampton children. Income from the Charles H. Lane Trust Fund has been used to purchase science equipment, benches, lockers, tools, and other equipment for the academy and WHS.

The cost of the WHS cafetorium was covered by an $18,000 gift in 1959 that came through the Hampton Academy trustees, who secured court permission to use income from the academy trust fund set up by Charles H. Lane. The 1959 sum, given in Lane's memory, was believed, in the words of one report, "to be the largest single sum ever given to a local school."

One of Joshua Lane's sons was Howard Garland Lane, born in 1869 and a member of the academy's first high school graduating class in 1887. Howard was a benefactor of both the academy and the town. He served as the president of the academy's Board of Trustees for 33 years, and both he and his wife, Sarah (Hobbs) Lane, served terms as president of the Alumni Association.

The Lane Memorial Library, built by Howard Lane in memory of his father, Joshua, was dedicated and transferred to Town ownership on December 4, 1910. The 1957 addition to the library, built with town funds and a $10,000 donation from Howard Lane and his son, Wheaton, was dedicated on January 5, 1958. The academy still receives income from the Howard G. Lane Charitable Trust. In addition, two scholarships are granted each year in the name of Sarah Lane, to graduates of Winnacunnet High School.

In 1957, Howard Garland Lane died at the age of 87. Ten years earlier, and a year after Howard had retired from participating actively in the affairs of the academy's trustees, his son, Wheaton Joshua, was chosen to fill his vacated seat on the academy's Board of Trustees.

Later, as now, Hampton citizens' support of the public schools also came through such organizations as the Parent-Teachers Association and the Winnacunnet Band Boosters.

In the school report for the year ending January 31, 1925, for example, the School Board acknowledged the "generous contributions" received from the Mothers' Circle, Monday Club, Men's Club, and the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA). For a time, in 1921, the Mothers' Circle had been dispensing hot lunches to the school children, a program sponsored by the Home Economics Club. The Monday Club had a long history of support for the academy, donating funds to help pay for the cost of the music program at the academy.

The first organizational meeting of the Parent-Teachers Association took place on November 10, 1921, with 50 people attending. Since then, the PTA has been one of the strongest outside arms of the Hampton school system, regularly praised by school administrators for its work in helping to improve the quality of the schools.

In the report of the superintendent of schools written February 8, 1956, for example, Superintendent Gillmore devoted a long paragraph to praise of the PTA's work. He noted that members "have assisted the lunchroom personnel with the serving of lunches daily" and that "Under the guidance of the PTA, needed playground equipment has been installed at the Centre School .... Once again," he concluded, "the organization has proven its interest in, and value to, the pupils of our school."

Other organizations have contributed significantly to education in Hampton. Organizations that over the years have donated equipment to the Hampton schools include the American Legion Auxiliary of Hampton, the American Legion Post 35 of Hampton, Kiwanis Club, Kiwanis Aides, Rebekahs, Hampton Falls PTA, North Hampton PTA, Hampton PTA, Rye PTA, and Hampton Beach Women's Club. The Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club have given financial help to students in need of health care.

In October 1973, the first organizational meeting of the Winnacunnet High School Band Booster Club was held, with Stanley Bednarz, high school music director, presiding. The goals discussed then were the provision of chaperons and parent help for band activities and trips, a scholarship fund for senior band members, and fund-raising activities to accomplish the scholarship goal.

The new group joined another group already in existence, the Winnacunnet High School Football Boosters Association, which later in 1973 presented a production of Harvey at the high school auditorium.

Hampton's graduates also supported the schools through the various alumni associations. In 1907, the Hampton Academy Alumni Association was formed, and on June 21, 1907, a reunion of former students occurred. Alumni, spouses, and guests stopped off for a visit to the academy, as recorded in the Hampton Academy and Winnacunnet High School Alumni Association's 65th anniversary historical souvenir booklet, issued in 1972. Then they motored to the Hampton Beach Casino, where they enjoyed a dinner of salmon, roast lamb, and chicken. Afterward, the 117 alumni organized the Association, electing Lewis Perkins as president; Lucy Marston, the first woman to vote in Hampton after the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920, as secretary; Sarah (Hobbs) Lane, the first female to graduate from Hampton Academy and High School, as treasurer; and Ernest G. Cole as vice president.

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