Hopedale History
April 2021
No. 393
Reminiscences of an Old Grad

  Hopedale in April 2021

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Twenty-five years ago – April 1996 – A Boeing 737 military jet crashes into a mountain north of Dubrovnik, Croatia. All 35 people on board are killed, including United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown.

Massacres of Hutus by Tutsis in Burundi take place with more than 450 killed within a few days.

The FBI arrested Theodore Kaczynski, the suspected Unabomber at his cabin in Lincoln, Montana.

Fifty years ago – April 1971Charles Manson is sentenced to death; in 1972, the sentence for all California Death Row inmates is commuted to life imprisonment.

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education: The Supreme Court of the United States rules unanimously that busing of students may be ordered to achieve racial desegregation.

François Duvalier, president of Haiti, dies; his son Jean-Claude Duvalier follows him as president-for-life.

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Hopedale High Reminiscences

By George F. Grayson, H.H.S. ‘89

September 1886. Hopedale, a town five months old, is opening her High School for the first time in two upper rooms of the building, now standing, in front of the Draper Corporation Works on Hopedale Street.  (Chapel Street School) Twenty-eight students, of whom the writer was one, comprised the entire student body; and Principal Miss Marian E.H. Barrows and Assistant Miss Lilla J. Bancroft was the teaching force.

No classrooms, no laboratories; simply two small rooms. This condition lasted two years, then we moved into, it seemed to me, still more inadequate quarters in Town Hall building, having the room now occupied by William’s store for assembly room, and one of the offices for a class room. After two terms of this we were again moved to one corner of the Town Hall proper, with movable desks and an ante-room for a classroom.

Under such conditions, which were partly offset by the fine teaching abilities of Misses Barrows and Bancroft, the class of ’89 finally arrived at Graduation Day. The exercises were held on the stage of Town Hall in the same room, of course, that we had occupied for the preceding term, and the entire class (six of us) had speaking parts, and then some. The writer, who stood at the head of the class—providing you started at the wrong end—as his recollection has it – delivered the Oration, subject, The Monitor and the Merrimac, also had a charge to the Undergraduates, which was supposed to be humorous, had a part in a playlet delivered in French, and sang bass in a quartet. Outside of these trifling activities, he didn’t have much to do.

You graduates of ’29, contrast the foregoing story with the facilities and opportunities you have had, and then pat yourselves on the backs; but don’t kid yourselves that your loyalty to Hopedale High School, nor your future fond recollections of happy and fruitful days spent there will be any more fervent than those of ours.

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Hopedale’s separation from Milford occurred in April 1886. The very few Milford High School seniors who lived in what became Hopedale finished the year and graduated in Milford. Hopedale had to be ready to start the school year in September. The town was prepared for its elementary students, because it had the South Hopedale School, (although in rather rough shape) and the Chapel Street School. The matter of accommodating high school students was more of a problem. The following is some of the school committee report for 1886.

“One of the first problems to be solved after the incorporation of Hopedale was that of High School accommodations. The Milford committee agreed to take our scholars for the remainder of the spring term, but could not say until their meeting in July whether they would continue this arrangement. In case of a negative decision this would have been too late to have begun preparations for a new school to open in September. Further investigation having satisfied all that it would be for the interest of the town and scholars to have a local school, arrangements were at once made to the building (Chapel Street School) equipped and supplied, ready for the coming term. There were seventeen pupils for Hopedale in the Milford school, but a canvas showed that more would attend our own. The vacant room in the north part of the school house was partitioned off, giving a room with seating capacity for about thirty scholars, and a recitation room for the assistant. Twenty-five desks were purchased; these were soon insufficient and three more were added, making total number of twenty-eight, all of which have been occupied.

“In December, it became evident that the attendance of scholars from the south end of town would be very irregular and probably some would be obliged to leave school unless some plan was devised to furnish conveyance. This we have arranged to do through the winter, and the matter will be submitted to the town for action at the March meeting as to continuing beyond that time; we have decided that it has been of decided benefit to the scholars, and that it is a subject that merits attention.”

The 1887 report of the school committee, written as was the 1886 report, by Frank Dutcher, stated that during the fall term of that year, there “…were sixty-six scholars in the primary room, fifty-three in the intermediate, forty-three in the grammar, and thirty in the High School.” He also reported that, “The pupils attending the High School living below Green Street have been carried to and from school during the month of January, February, March and December; also, on the same trip, some of the children have been carried to the South Hopedale building.” The report recommended the erection of a new building for the high school, and stated that land had been purchased for that purpose. The lot was used about ten years later for a school, but not a high school. It was where the Dutcher Street School was built.

The 1888 report of the school committee stated that, “Owing to the large increase in the number of scholars in the lower grades, the high school was obliged to seek other quarters in September. Rooms were secured in the Town House which, although rather small, will answer as a temporary expedient. “At the town meeting in March, 1888, General Wm. F. Draper, on behalf of the Hopedale Machine Company, George Draper & Sons, and the Dutcher Temple Company, offered to the give the town a new building for the High School, to cost six thousand dollars, the town to furnish the lot.”

Much of the report for 1889 was about the completion of the new high school. It also included a sentence that is particularly interesting to read in 2021. “It is a matter of regret that our High School grounds have been invaded by the new railroad.” That, of course, refers to the section of track that goes along what is now the parking lot at Sacred Heart Church. The controversy continued, mentioned in reports for several more years, and the track is still there, 132 years later.

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