Recalling School Held Together by Chewing Gum

 It was known as the school held together by chewing gum, but on March 4, 1974, all the chicle in the world could not have saved it. The massive three-story brick edifice at Roan Street and Fairview Avenue fell victim to a huge wrecking ball.

A 1936 student handbook offers a glimpse of what it was like attending classes there. The school opened in September 1922 with Miss Regina Eiseman as principal. By 1936, enrollment was 1078 students. Mr. A.E. Sherrod was principal and Mr. Roy Bigelow, Washington County superintendent. This melting pot school initially served the seventh and eighth grades, the ninth grade being added in 1938.

Prior to that, students attended classes at Science Hill High School, located a few blocks south down Roan Street. Junior High School had 68 classrooms, 2500 volume library, bookstore, gymnasium, cafeteria, large U-shaped basketball courtyard and a large 1000-seat auditorium. In addition, the Home Economics Department had an impressive five-room “model home,” containing a living room, bedroom, dining room, kitchen and bath.

The academic year was divided into two semesters: 7B, 8B and 9B for the first and 7A, 8A and 9A for the second. Required subjects for 9A were English, Algebra, Civics, Spelling, Writing, Guidance and Library. Electives for 9A were Latin, Manual Arts, General Science, Sewing and Cooking, and a choice between Music, Physical Education and Bible. Students needed 148 credits to graduate to high school.

The school utilized a “Junior Patrol,” consisting of 13 specially selected students wearing wide white belts, carrying bright red flags and directing pedestrian traffic around the facilities. The facility provided a first floor room where students could park their bicycles during the day. They were rolled through the northeast Myrtle Avenue door and down the steps to a designated room.

Cafeteria food was priced at five cents per item with four crackers allotted with a bowl of soup and two with a salad. A slice of bread was allowed with each vegetable purchased.

Football, basketball and tennis were the main sporting events. The official school song, sung to the tune “Till We Meet Again,” contained these highly spirited words: ”Junior High, the school I love best; Junior High, the fount of joy and jest; Junior High, where friendships true; Make the world a brighter hue; Junior High, where loyalty’s the test; Junior High, whose mottos well professed; He profits most who serves the best; Junior High, All hail! T-E, A-M, T-E, A-M. Team! Team! Team!”

These astute words were found in the handbook: “Many thrilling examples of honest mutual admiration between victor and vanquished may be gleaned from the history of warfare, as when Grant handed back the sword of surrender to Lee.”

 The school published a student paper, initially called “The Broadcaster,” so named after a student contest. Later, the publication was renamed, “The Junior High News.” An annual school tradition was the graduating class’s “farewell” drama, performed on the auditorium stage. The 1936 play was titled, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Junior High School’s once imperative task was successfully relegated to its offsprings, Indian Trail Middle School and Science Hill High School, allowing the long deceased, gum-reinforced institution to rest in peace.

If you have other remembrances of this old school, let me hear from you.