History of ELHS

A sketch of the proposed East Longmeadow High School in the Springfield Union newspaper, Oct. 28, 1958.
Here's the story of how East Longmeadow High School came to be, from its conception in the early 1950s through its opening on Sep. 7, 1960. It's a wonderful tale, with many twists and turns, reflecting small-town government in action. 
We applaud the perseverance of those who saw our high school through to completion, including members of the Board of Selectmen, school committee, and high school building committee; superintendent of schools, Mr. Robert Jarvis; principal, Mr. Elwyn Doubleday; architectural, engineering, and construction personnel; and the townspeople of East Longmeadow.
There's a lot to digest here, so you may wish to read it a bit at a time. We've composed the story entirely from articles in the Springfield Union newspaper, whose reporters deserve our thanks for their in-depth chronicling of all the important events.
Please scroll down the page or click on a link below. After clicking on a link, use your browser's "back" button to return here.
1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959 · 1960 · Epilogue
During the 1950-1951 school year, East Longmeadow's population was about 4900. Two schools were in town then: Center School on School St., which opened in 1889, and Pleasant View School on North Main St., which opened in 1916. Each hosted students from first through sixth grades. 
Seventh, eighth, and ninth graders attended Forest Park Junior High School in Springfield.
Senior high school students, in grades ten to twelve, attended school in Springfield at Cathedral High School, Classical High School, The High School of Commerce, Technical High School, or Trade High School. Their tuition, with the exception of those attending Cathedral, was paid by the town of East Longmeadow, which also provided busing to and from the schools.
In July 1951, the Springfield School Board increased the tuition rate per pupil at Classical, Technical, and Commerce High Schools, from $246 to $349. The tuition at Trade High School was increased to $240. The East Longmeadow school committee responded by sending a letter to tax payers "pointing to the advisability of building a high school independent of the Springfield system." 
Birchland Park Junior High and Elementary School opened in September 1951, with nineteen classrooms housing sixth through ninth grade students. Tenth through twelfth graders continued attending high school in Springfield.  
Springfield remained receptive to students from other towns attending its high schools. In December 1951, Springfield superintendent of schools William Sanders said Springfield would have no difficulty in accomodating high school students sent by surrounding towns for ten or twelve more years to come and "probably not then." 
During the 1951-1952 school year, senior high school students attending schools in Springfield included 65 at Technical High, 38 at Commerce; 25 at Classical; and the remainder at Cathedral and Trade. 
In February 1952, a series of articles in the Springfield Union newspaper discussed the pros and cons of a senior high school in East Longmeadow. 
"Since 1948 East Longmeadow has been thinking about its school needs. Today, Birchland Park School on Hanward Hill, with a capacity of 725 pupils in elementary and junior high grades, is a sign of that thinking converted into action.
"Some persons in the town think more action is necessary. They base their opinions on possible long-range savings. 
"East Longmeadow for four years has been facing a two-way expansion calling for attention.
"First, large enrollments, result of the high wartime birthrate, have been moving through the elementary grades. 
"Second, an influx of families into the growing town has been adding children of school and preschool age.
"To suggest how rapid this has been: Four years ago East Longmeadow had 64 first graders. The Oct. 1948 preschool census indicated 116 prospective first graders. The census last October counted 144. 
"When the town planned the Birchland Park project, there was eventually to be a senior high school. The site purchased is large enough for the added facilities. 
"Because of this, a headstart has been made, so to speak, on the senior high school that's the subject of an article in the warrant for the Feb. 20 town meeting. This article, sponsored by the Parent-Teacher Association, calls for a vote on appointment of a commitee to consider construction. 
"The headstart is that already at Birchland Park are the library, science room, activities room, assembly hall, cafeteria, gymnasium, industrial arts and home economics rooms that would be used by the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades, as well as a heating plant large enough for the additional building.
"The senior high school project as planned, would be construction of fourteen classrooms at an estimated cost of $350,000. Its construction would enable the town to discontinue sending pupils to Springfield except to Trade High School.
"Now being used for the first year, the school on Hanward Hill --- being paid for at $40,000 a year plus interest for forty years --- has an enrollment of 260 in the elementary grades and 215 in the junior high school. Until this year the junior high pupils attended Springfield Schools.
Arguments in favor of a senior high school
"Proponents of an East Longmeadow senior high school have been stirred by the same factors listed as influencing Longmeadow: the increase of $90 per pupil in the tuition charged by Springfield and marked increases predicted in numbers of senior high school pupils.
"The town school committee has prepared tables of figures to substantiate a belief that immediate construction of the fourteen high school rooms will enable an overall saving of $95,000 during the fifteen years the $250,000 borrowed for the project is being paid.
"This is based on an estimate that per pupil cost of operating the new school would be $300, enabling an annual savings of $90 per pupil by not having to send senior high boys and girls to Springfield, where the cost at present is $349 for tuition, plus transportation of approximately $40.
"As the number of senior high school pupils in East Longmeadow goes up, a school committee statement points out, the possible operating savings at $90 per pupil go higher. At present, 138 youngsters attend Springfield high schools. Estimates are for 160 in 1955; 285 in 1960; 345 in 1965.
"After six years, it is estimated, the savings would begin to more than offset the annual $12,500 bond payment plus interest for the new school and would mount each year.
"By 1960, when senior high school enrollment is expected to have grown to 285, the operating expenses to the town from having a high school of its own would be $25,650 ($90 times 285). With bond payment and interest that year totaling $14,650, the town would be $11,000 ahead.
"At the end of fifteen years, it is estimated the savings would have totaled $95,000.
"School committeeman Ray S. Jones has called the junior high school "quite a community asset" and believes a senior high school would serve an equal place in "building town spirit."
"He feels the training in a smaller, general high school can be as effective in "forming" well-rounded individuals and making "good citizens" as the East Longmeadow children now receive in Springfield. 
"A better opportunity for pupils to participate in extracurricular activities has been advanced by Superintendent Harold Truell of East Longmeadow as a strong reason for a separate senior high school. 
"He says East Longmeadow students attending Springfield high schools are limited in taking part in sports, debating, dramatics and other school clubs because they must take a bus home at a certain time."
Arguments against a senior high school
Others opposed a senior high school in East Longmeadow.
"A number of East Longmeadow folks who would be as proud as anybody of the town's own senior high school are saying, "Let's be patient, there are some things maybe we can't afford just now."
"They look at the outline of potential future savings and then want to know: How about the sewage disposal plant, the fire and police headquarters, the water tank, the town garage? Don't we need to widen some highways and build some sidewalks?
"Sure, a senior high school would be fine, these questioners agree, but maybe, since East Longmeadow has other pressing needs and since the boys and girls can continue to go to the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades in Springfield, other things come first.
"What the people with this "go slow" viewpoint remember is that two years ago the town borrowed nearly to capacity for the $850,000 Birchland Park School, enabling seventh, eighth, and ninth grade children to go to school "at home."
"That's good, these people say. But as Archie Rintoul, town finance commiteee chairman and a stout advocate of an East Longmeadow senior high school --- some day, phrased it, "After you've run a while, you should stop, look around and make sure you're on the right path."
"The "look around" in East Longmeadow's case, shows other needs to be evaluated in light of the ability of a town with about $10,500,000 property valuation to finance them all. Not boosting the current $40 tax rate would leave the town with no borrowing capacity to fall back on in an emergency.
"That emergency might be the problem of the sewage disposal plant, where the sewage at present is not being treated adequately.
"What if the state decided this causes a health danger and required immediate correction, ask the people who advise patience on building a new school. It might be a $5000 project, $10,000 or $50,000. And there would be no choice but to pay it.
"The town lags in other utilities. An article in the warrant for the February 20 town meeting covers a $65,000 water tank to extend pressure.
"Another article is for a police and fire headquarters, a $90,000 item.
"There's the widely expressed need of a town garage, a $30,000 project, and the desired extension and improvement of roads and sidewalks in a growing town.
"All this brings to mind the question: How much can we afford? What should come first?
"The thought is that continuing to have senior high school pupils attend Springfield schools is a good alternative to the school problem. But on some of the other looming expenses, the town has less choice.
"This, the "be patient" people say, lowers the priority of school construction.
"As in Longmeadow, there is the belief that a separate senior high school cannot give the pupils the benefit of as full a program as the Springfield schools provide. 
"Some persons point out, too, that a rapid turnover of teachers, as they find opportunites for better pay, would be a hindrance to the best work of an East Longmeadow high school --- unless the town raises the teachers' salary schedule."
Voters say "no" to additional schools
At the Feb. 20, 1952 town meeting, "Voters rejected a proposal that a committee be named to make a study of future school needs. 
"The nearly 600 who thronged the Birchland Park School gymnasium for the annual appropriations meeting evidenced little enthusiasm for the article which asked for formation of such a committee and appropriation of $500 for expenses of the survey. While the article in the warrant specifically mentioned a high school, it was explained that the study would cover all needs."
Meanwhile, voters authorized the new water tank, police and fire headquarters, and town garage.
Focus shifts to new elementary school
As the 1953 annual town meeting approached, the school committee shifted its approach from a high school to a new elementary school.
An article in the Dec. 22, 1952 Springfield Union mentioned, "The school survey committee has recommended that an article be inserted into the town warrant asking for approximately $55,000 to cover architectural and engineering fees for the building of a twenty-four-room elementary school. 
"They also recommend that it be built on the Mapleshade Ave. end of the Birchland Park School site.
A Dec. 23, 1952 article on the 1953 school budget stated, "The large amount paid to Springfield each year for tuition brings up the question of whether East Longmeadow should have its own high school or possibly cooperate in the building of a regional high school. The school survey committee has found, however, that a new elementary school is more vitally needed now than a high school."
On Feb. 3, 1953, two weeks before the annual town meeting, the school committee, in a three-page letter to all boxholders in town, proposed that Birchland Park School, with its ten elementary and nine junior high classrooms, be converted to a six-year junior-senior high school, in conjunction with the new twenty-four room elementary school. This was just a proposal, though, and no action was requested at the town meeting. 
At the Feb. 18, 1953 town meeting, "Major actions by the voters, whose number ranged from 750 at the outset to about 500 when the session ended, included authorization of a permanent school building committee to prepare plans and specifications for a new elementary school of not less than twenty-four rooms. The sum of $25,000 was requested and granted rather than the $55,000 in the article."
The following year, at the Feb. 17, 1954 town meeting, voters approved $742,000 for the construction and initial furnishing and equipping of a new sixteen room elementary school on the Mapleshade Ave. end of the Birchland Park School site, to be completed in September 1955. 
At the same Feb. 17, 1954 town meeting, voters also approved the creation of the Regional School District Planning Committee of East Longmeadow, a step aimed at the future construction of a high school just for East Longmeadow students or a regional high school for Wilbraham, Hampden and East Longmeadow. The committee was ordered to report back at a special town meeting or at the 1955 town meeting.
In June 1954, 53 seniors graduated from Springfield schools, with 27 at Technical High, 9 at Commerce, 8 at Classsical, 5 at Trade, and 4 at Cathedral.
Planning committee says "no" to regional, "yes" to town high school
A Dec. 28, 1954 article in the Springfeld Union mentioned, "The Regional District School Planning Committee of East Longmeadow tonight recommended that the town have its own high school rather than be part of a regional district, and that the best solution to the problem is to build an addition to the present Birchland Park School to make it a junior-senior high school.
"A full report made as a result of many months of deliberation with the Wilbraham and Hampden regional committees will be mailed to all voters Wednesday.
"Ray Jones, chairman, said that steps are being taken to secure parcels of land immediately adjacent to the Birchland Park School site and an article will inserted in the warrant for the town meeting asking for the appointment of a high school building committee along with an appropriation sufficient to permit this committee to have plans drawn and secure information on the feasibility and cost of this proposal. 
"Although the commitee realizes that many financial problems face the town, the report points out that the alternative is not a choice of spending or not spending money, but a choice of whether the town pays Springfield ever-increasing amounts of tuition or spends the same amount and ends up owning a valuable capital asset.
"Since it is the opinion of this committee that there could be a considerable savings made in operating costs over that of Springfield without jeopardizing the quality of education, this difference in cost over a period of years would be sufficient to pay for the building," the committee said.
"The committee expressed its feeling that the number of pupils attending high school would be adequate to provide a sound educational program. The number of courses which could  be offered would be the same as in the best high schools, to provide a college preparatory, a general, and a commercial course, the committee said.
"A high school enrollment chart, including tuition costs, showed that East Longmeadow will be paying more than $100,000 to Springfield in 1957 and over $200,000 in 1963.
"The Springfield tuition rate in 1950 was $256 per pupil. This year the rate is $416.
"The state average per high school pupil is about $300.
"The number of high school students in East Longmeadow is rapidly increasing and within the next few years will be near the 600 mark, the committee said."
At the Feb. 23, 1955 town meeting, spending was the primary concern, trumping the need for a high school, as "East Longmeadow voters put on the economy brakes."
"The more than four-hour long session ended about 12:30 this morning (Feb. 24) after voters had rejected a proposal which would have given the town a high school and carried the rejection to any consideration of a proposed six-year junior-senior high school in the immediate future.
"Championing the economy drive was Charles A. Bowler, who early in the meeting made it apparent he had closely observed the costs and scope of about every article of the forty-eight in the warrant.
"His pinpoint questioning caught on as the meeting progressed, and more and more of the articles underwent closer voter scutiny.
"The school committee made little progress in its quest for new facilities. Voters rejected the idea of a permanent high school building committee. They rejected the idea of continuing the regional high school planning committee, and they vetoed the idea of studying the possibility of converting Birchland Park School into a six-year junior-senior high school.
"As this article fell, so did an appropriation calling for $25,000 for architectural and engineering service in connection with the Birchland Park expansion idea.
"Also turned down was article 16, which called for expenditure of $5000 to buy nearly six acres of land on both sides of Elmcrest St. in the Birchland Park School area, this also to have been in connection with school expansion.
"Voters, in rejecting the high school idea, seemed motivated by the feeling that East Longmeadow could not provide the educational and other extracurricular activities of Springfield's four public high schools. It was also suggested that East Longmeadow will need another elementary school by 1960, in addition to the present Mapleshade Elementary scheduled for use next year, and voters seemed hesitant about going over their heads financially on school costs."
During the 1954-1955 school year, over 200 students attended high school in Springfield.
Mapleshade School opens; high school talk rekindled
On Sep. 7, 1955 Mapleshade Elementary School opened. In that same month, the move toward a high school was revived when the East Longmeadow School Survey Committee appointed Robert Moran chairman of Committee B "to study what the the future needs are --- an elementary or a high school or both; what type and size of school it should be and where it should be located."
At the Feb. 23, 1956 town meeting there was no discussion or action concerning a high school in East Longmeadow. 
Then, in March, a letter from William Sanders, Springfield superintendent of schools, changed everything. Responding to an inquiry from the East Longmeadow School Survey Committee as to how far in the future East Longmeadow students could be accommodated in Springfield, he said, "It now appears in accordance with our prediction of future enrollment that we can take senior high school students in our schools through 1960. I do not believe, if the present trend of school population increase continues, that we can accept any students from other towns in September 1961."
On May 7 the school survey committee prepared a brochure explaining the necessity for building a high school. They recommended a new high school "rather than an addition to Birchland Park, so that adequate space would be available to accomodate future growth at minimum expense." 
Things turned positive on June 6: "The first step toward construction of an East Longmeadow high school was taken when voters at the special town meeting authorized selectmen to appoint a committee of six to recommend a site and engage an architect for an 800-pupil high school. The sum of $7500 was appropriated from overlay reserve for engineering surveys of available sites and for preliminary sketches." Tentative figures for construction indicated a cost of around $1,600,000.
On July 16, the building committee reported it had compiled a list of all available building sites in town, including the town-owned former Blackman property (today known as Heritage Park).
Architect chosen; site selection process begins
The school committee reported on Oct. 11, 1956 that it was "studying the qualifications and type of building construction offered by three architects under consideration." The architect would be selected first, followed by engineering surveys and further investigation of five possible sites.
On October 31, the school committee announced that "S. W. Haynes and Associates, Inc. of Fitchburg has been chosen as the architect for the new East Longmeadow High School. This firm designed the Birchland Park Junior High School and during its thirty-six years of experience in school building projects has designed 146 school buildings. The decision was reached after many weeks of exhaustive study of school building design and construction methods in an effort to provide for East Longmeadow a good high school suitable for educational requirements and at a suitable cost."
"The work of site evaluation and site selection will begin immediately by the building committee, working with the architects and engineers. Site requirements include a minimum of thirty acres of land with contours which will make reasonable site development cost possible. Other considerations are sub-soil conditions, water, sewers, utilities, and location with respect to the center of population, traffic problems, easy access for buses, necessity for sidewalks, and many other factors.
"The several sites being considered by the commiteee will be submitted to the architects for engineering evaluation. In addition, the architects will survey all the available open areas for other possible school sites.
"The committee will balance development costs against the other factors and will present its recommendations as soon as a decision is made."
Initial building site selections revealed
On Dec. 5, 1956, Virgil Hulette, building committee chairman, said sites being considered by the committee for location of the high school had been narrowed to three: "the town-owned Blackman property on North Main St.; a tract of land on the north side of Chestnut St. between Prospect St. and South Main St. (now known as Somers Rd.); and a site on Maple St."
On Jan. 1, 1957, the building committee completed its survey of various high school sites and recommended "the proposed high school be located on the north side of Chestnut St. between Prospect St. and South Main St."
"Of the twenty-two possible sites considered, the committee narrowed its selection to four for extensive study: a tract on the north side of Chestnut; one on the south side of Chestnut; the Blackman property; and the Wetstone property on the south side of Maple St.
"Engineering surveys of the north Chestnut St. property showed that the land is flat and will require very little grading; clearing and drainage would be necessary; and the building could be located near the street so that cost of service facilities would be at a minimum. The area is away from business and industrial districts and the railroad.
"The site is located near the center of town, and in view of expected growth, would be near the population center in a few years. Several major streets serve this location, thus reducing the traffic problems. This site is considered much more suitable from an educational standpoint and would cost only slightly more than the Blackman site, the committee reported.
"Reasons for not recommending the Blackman property are: it is partially bordered by commercial areas and close to the railroad track and the industrial area; it is located in the northwest section of town with one side of the site bordering on the Springfield line; major access is along Route 83 which already presents traffic problems; drainage would have to be provided for a brook which runs diagonally across the property; site development costs would be about $40,000 more than on the Chestnut site; and costs of drives, sidewalks and public utilities services would be much greater.
"The added cost of developing the Blackman property offsets the purchase price of the Chestnut St. property, the committee said, and the town would still own a valuable piece of property which could be developed or sold.
"The Wetstone property, located near the Longmeadow line, was eliminated because of its high water table and drainage problems; its proximity to the railroad and the industrial area; traffic problems; the high cost of building a pumping station to enter the sanitary sewer line; and the cost of fill in the southeast section.
"The south Chestnut St. site was eliminated because of a high tension line running across it and because of a large swampy area."
On January 7, "The school committee approved the high school building committee's recommendation of a high school site and agreed that the Chestnut St. site should be acquired for school purposes. It was also agreed that the building committee should be authorized to proceed with preliminary plans."
Building committee chairman pushes for Chestnut St. site 
At a joint PTA meeting on Jan. 8, 1957 in the Birchland Park School auditorium, "The Chestnut St. site was presented as the best location for a high school by Virgil Hulette, chairman of the high school building committee.
"The meeting, which was opened to all interested citizens, was attended by 350 persons.
"Hulette compared the Chestnut St. and the Blackman properties on the basis of location, traffic and access, site development costs, and off-site factors, such as sewer, water, darinage, streets, and sidewalks.
"His report was followed by a lively discussion on the relative merits of the two locations. 
"Hulette said the cost of site development at the Blackman property would be about $40,000 more than at Chestnut St. and that the cost of purchasing the new property was expected to be less than $40,000.
"The town would still have the Blackman property as a financial asset, he pointed out.
"The building commitee plans to request $15,000 to $20,000 at the next town meeting and approval to proceed with preliminary plans for the 800-pupil building."
Citizens urged to vote wisely
On February 3, "Richard E. Hickey, Jr., a member of the Board of Selectman, urged that all voters give serious consideration to the forthcoming brochure of the high school site and building committee; that all voters assess the situation with an open mind, and that they attend the special town meeting February 14 to vote on the important decision of a high school site.
"His statement was made in reference to the controversy which has developed since the announcement that the building committee is recommending the Chestnut St. tract, in preference to the town-owned Blackman property, as the site for the proposed high school.
"Hickey points out that this committee, which represents a geographical cross section of the town, has spent considerable time and effort, at no cost to the taxpayers, to determine the best possible site through consultation with outstanding authorities and through specific advice from the town engineer and the town counsel. The committee is presenting its finally-resolved decision as requested by vote at the special town meeting in June 1956, he said.
"This commitee, he said, has spent more than seven months on the problem of site selection, and, as five of its six members served previously on the school survey committee, the majority of members have been studying the problems of school needs almost two years.
"The proposed new high school will cost approximately $1,800,000, he said, undoubtedly the biggest capital expenditure for any one facility that the voters will be called upon to make in their entire lifetime. If voters err on the selection of a site, he said, they will have a stark reminder of our mistake during the next twenty years while we are paying for the school, and during the lifetime of most of us, as the life of the school building is sixty years or more.
"The Board of Selectman received a petition recently, he said, signed by approximately 400 voters, requesting that an article be inserted in the warrant for the special town meeting for the approval of the Blackman tract as the high school site. The board has stated, he said, that this article is not necessary, because the article submitted by the building commiteee permits other motions which could propose other sites, including the Blackman tract. However, he concluded, if by inserting this article the board has allayed the fears of the proponents of the Blackman property and has given encouragement to a capacity turnout for this special meeting, then its inclusion will have served a useful purpose.
Archie Rintoul asks voters to go slow 
On February 11, three days before the special town meeting, "Archie Rintoul, in a communication mailed to residents as a proprietor of the Community Feed Stores, has suggested that the town go slow on construction of a high school.
"Rintoul, who as chairman of the appropriations committee has long advocated economy in town government, pointed out "there is really no need of our being rushed or stampeded into action on a high school. Also, the tuition costs to Springfield will look like a bargain when we build our own high school."
"In his letter, Rintoul pointed out that East Longmeadow students may attend the Springfield high schools for another five years. It is for this reason, he said, he believes the town should go slow.
""It could well be possible that instead of controversy over a high school site or building at present, we should be giving more thought to adding elementary rooms to a school or schools we have now. Or, should consideration be given to taking a good, hard look at our own situation before taking any definite course of action? Certainly, if the voters are going to be asked to spend somewhere between $1.5 and $2 million for a high school, we should have accurate information as to benefits and figures as to what the total cost to the town will be, including drainage, sewage, sidewalks, roads, etc. Let's base our decision on facts and figures,"Rintoul said."
Voters ask for Chestnut St. site survey; say "no" to Blackman site
On Feb. 14, 1957, a special town meeting was held.
"There were more than 1250 at the meeting. The gymnasium at Birchland Park School was filled to capacity. The overflow was seated in the auditorium with a speaker system connection. More than three hours of debate were taken up on the school issue.
"Voters authorized the high school building committee to obtain an accurate survey of the Chestnut St. site for a new $1,800,000 high school to accommodate 800 pupils.
"By a vote of 454 to 451, the voters approved an article calling for the survey but did not not take action on a request for $20,000 for preliminary plans for the school.
"The final article, requesting the selection of the Blackman site, was voted down.
"Because of the strong feeling of the Blackman property as the site for the proposed high school, the building committee withdrew its article requesting the $20,000. The commiteee felt that the closeness of the vote indicated that a two-thirds vote for land-taking in the future would not be likely.
Town authorizes continued study
At the annual town meeting on Mar. 12, 1957, the school survey committee was authorized to "continue its study of the town's overall school requirements."
Chestnut St. site survey progresses
On Apr. 12, 1957 it was reported, "The high school building committee is having a survey made of a fifty acre tract on the north side of Chestnut St., between Prospect St. and South Main St. so that acquisition of this land can be voted on at a future town meeting."
Building committeee states reasons for high school
On April 24, high school building committee members presented reasons for building a high school.
"Robert Moran said by 1959 East Longmeadow will have a shortage of fourteen rooms and will have 432 high school students. By 1962 Springfield high schools will be filled to capacity. As the town needs both a high school and an elementary school, the committee feels that the biggest and most expensive school should be built now before building costs increase, and while the town gets fifty percent reimbursement from the state."
High school pros and cons discussed at open meetings
At an open meeting in Birchland Park School on May 20, high school building committee chairman Virgil Hulett reviewed the reasons for selecting the Chestnut St. site over the Blackman site. At the same meeting, Ray Jones, chairman of the school committee, "spoke of the need for immediate action on the high school building because of the need for more classroom space. He emphasized the complete flexibility of the plant which would temporarily house grades eight through twelve, thus relieving the elementary problem until an elementary school could be built."
On June 6 another open meeting was held. "The fact that the town is not getting high school education free and that the building of a local high school will be economical compared to present and future tuition costs to Springfield, was brought out in an open meeting of the high school building committee tonight in the Birchland Park School auditorium. The meeting was attended by about seventy-five people. The tuition bill in 1959 will be almost a quarter-of-a-million, the committee said.
"Archie Rintoul, chairman of the finance committee, said the town needs a high school but should be aware of what it will cost. He listed high tax rates of other towns and said the average increase in taxes is $4.66 compared to East Longmeadow's increase of only $2.
"Ray Jones, chairman of the school committee, said that operational savings in a local high school are estimated at $15,000 for the first year, increasing to $51,000 by the fifth year. This estimate is based on experience with Birchland Park Junior High, he said, which showed a net savings to the town of $27,000 last year.
"In discussing site selections, Virgil Hulette said, "If the cost differential is nominal, experts indicate that we should pick the more desirable location as far as educational and other factors are concerned. Our study shows that we can buy and develop the Chestnut St. property for the cost of developing the Blackman property. 
"Answers to questions indicated that the building of the new Cathedral High School would not relieve the high school problem here and that crowded conditions in Springfield schools expected within the next five years would have a definite bearing on their capacity for accommodating out-of-town pupils.
Voters reject Chestnut St. site acquisition
A few days later, the building committee's quest for a high school on Chestnut St. was dealt a severe blow. On Jun. 13, 1957, at a special town meeting, a measure to acquire twelve parcels of land, totaling fifty-two acres, in the Chestnut St. area was defeated.
"More than 1000 people attended the meeting in Birchland Park School in the gymnasium, with the overflow in the auditorium.
"The high school building committee report on the site study and the discussion which followed lasted an hour and a half. The secret balloting started at 9:00 p.m. and took one hour.
"A two-thirds vote in favor was required to obtain the land, but only fifty-five percent supported it, with 547 in favor and 447 against. To pass the bill 662 votes were needed."
With the defeat of this measure, the building committee withdrew its request for $20,000 to secure preliminary plans for a high school site on the Chestnut St. site.
One article did pass, which expanded the school building committee from six to twelve members.
East Longmeadow had 240 pupils attending Springfield high schools in the 1956-1957 school year and 291 began the 1957-1958 school year.
Town mulls choices in open meeting
Undeterred by its defeat in June, the school committee held an open meeting at Birchland Park on Sep. 13, 1957, attended by 250 townspeople, to discuss the best plan forward for a high school.
"After more than two hours of discussion, the majority felt that a continuous balloting on the original high school recommendation might be the answer.
"It was generally agreed that a high school is needed and that the important thing is to get the necessary two-thirds majority vote to start building.
"The selectmen said they are again in favor of trying again for a high school on the Chestnut St. site. Ray Jones, chairman of the school committee, said the committee still feels that the right and best answer to the problem of school housing is a high school on the Chestnut St. site.
"Many questions were asked and opinions expressed by those present.
"Factors which were brought out in the discussion were delay in building the high school is costing the town money because of increasing costs of construction and increasing interest rate; the town needs both a high school and an elementary school; the number of classrooms has to be doubled by 1965 and it does not seem feasible to add a few rooms at a time to present school buildings; the town still gets fifty percent state reimbursement on school construction cost; the appointment of a new building committee would mean a long delay; the town has no assurance that local pupils can attend Springfield schools after 1961; and the construction of 500 new homes has been approved by the planning board."
School committee calls for second vote on Blackman and Chestnut St. sites 
On Oct. 14, 1957 the school committee announced they had asked the selectmen to "call a special town meeting for the purpose of acting on four articles concerning the proposed high school." 
"Article 1 would propose that the selectmen be authorized to take the town-owned Blackman property for high school purposes by printed or written yes or no ballots.
"Article 2 would authorize the high school building committee to secure detailed preliminary plans for an 800-pupil high school to be located on the Blackman property and to appropriate a sum of money thereof.
"Article 3 would propose the Chestnut St. site to be taken for high school purposes, the vote to be by printed or written yes or no ballots.
"Article 4 would authorize the high school building committee to secure detailed preliminary plans for an 800-pupil high school and to appropriate a sum of money for this purpose.
The school committee went on to state, "Since it is obvious that the choice of a site has narrowed to the Chestnut and Blackman sites, the committee felt that the wording of the articles should be such as to eliminate any question of the fairness of the vote. Consequently, identical articles have been requested for the Blackman site and for the Chestnut site.
"The school committee has publicly and unaminously endorsed the Chestnut St. site as the location for the proposed high school. By requesting that articles be submitted on both sites, the committee does not wish to infer that it has changed its position but does wish to make certain that citizens with different viewpoints have a fair opportunity to express them. 
"Many citizens have expressed the feeling that enough voters are now alerted to the seriousness of the situation so that another town meeting would result in some form of concrete action. Your committee is not certain that this is so, but felt that the only way to find out would be to have the meeting."
Springfield ups the pressure again
On Nov. 25, 1957, prior to the special town meeting on December 5, Dr. T. Joseph McCook, superintendent of Springfield schools informed the East Longmeadow School Committee that time was rapidly running out for Springfield to be able to accept students from East Longmeadow. His letter stated,
"I have checked with the research department relative to the ability of Springfield schools to accomodate your pupils through 1961-1962.
"It is our opinion that this still can be done if the Hampden-Wilbraham High School (later known as Minnechaug Regional High School) is built prior to that date, so I see no reason for changing the statement we made to you on Jan. 29, 1957.
"It is our belief that we cannot accomodate your pupils after that date and, judging by present enrollment, if would be preferable not to have them after the year 1960-1961 even though they can be accommodated."
Voters say "no" again to Chestnut St. and Blackman sites
On Dec. 5, 1957, a special town meeting was convened to vote on authorizing either the Blackman or Chestnut St. sites for a high school. On Nov. 28, this map was published in the Springfield Union with the caption underneath:
Shown on the map of East Longmeadow are the two sites being considered for the proposed high school, the Blackman property in the northwest section of town and the Chestnut St. site near the geographic center of town. Both sites will be presented for taking by eminent domain at the special town meeting Dec. 5, the acquisition of either site requiring a two-thirds vote. The Chestnut St. site is recommended by the School Committee, the High School Building Committee, the Board of Selectmen, and the Planning Board because of its central location, because it provides the environment desired for schools; has safer and more versatile traffic access then the Blackman site, and presents minimum site development cost.
"The meeting in Birchland Park School was attended by more than 1300 voters, with 1100 in the gymnasium and the overflow in the auditorium."
The first vote, to authorize a high school on the Blackman property site, was voted down by a majority of 726 to 582.
Then the high drama began. The vote to take twelve parcels of land on the north side of Chestnut St. for high school purposes, requiring a two-thirds majority, failed by nine votes, 851 to 440, with 860 needed for passage.
A motion to reconsider was made by Ray S. Jones, president of the school committee. This motion received the necessary necessary two-thirds vote, 717 to 353, three more than necessary. This set up a second vote on taking the Chestnut St. site by eminent domain.
Prior to the vote, Archie Rintoul, chairman of the Appropriations Commiteee, said, "We are the victims of a well-laid plan to ram the Chestnut St. site down our throats. I refuse to be stampeded. Only two sites have been presented and we should have more opportunity for selection. We have no idea of the development costs and we should not gamble on costs. We should get a new building committee. Don't be afraid of high school education. The Springfield high schools offer good education."
"Miss Frances Bryant of the high school building committee answered by saying that facts and figures have been given on both sides and that those preferring the Blackman property had been given every opportunity to vote for it at tonight's meeting.
"David Lloyd said, "Yes, we are gambling on fifty percent state aid, that we have already lost $200,000 through delay, that we need a high school badly, and that it would be a capital improvement."
"Ray Jones, in defending the building committee, said it had been given a job to do, and it presented the true facts and figures after receiving expert advice from engineers, architects, and real estate appraisers."
On the second vote to authorize the Chestnut St. site, 788 were in favor and 403 against, six votes short of the required two-thirds for passage.
Blackman and Chestnut St. sites up for third vote
On Dec. 16, 1957, two months before the Feb. 20, 1958 annual town meeting, the "Board of Selectman received a petition requesting insertion of an article calling for taking the Blackman property by eminent domain for school purposes. The selectman had no alternative but to accept this article, since the petition contained the required number of signatures."
On Jan. 5, 1958, the Board of Selectmen announced that an article on authorizing the Chestnut St. site for the high school would also be included at the town meeting. 
"The Board of Selectman felt that in fairness to the majority of people in town who had voted in favor of the Chestnut St. site and lost the required two-thirds majority by only six votes, an article for this site should be inserted in the annual meeting warrant. 
"It was learned the reason that the Blackman site proponents had petitioned for this article was that the selectmen planned to insert an article calling for taking the site for park and recreational purposes. The board wishes to make its position clear in this matter.
"We have felt for some time that in the event the Blackman site was not taken for high school purposes that it should be taken for park and recreational purposes for two very good reasons. 
"First, we are in dire need of additional recreational areas to provide facilities for the expanding program sponsored by ELRA, and secondly, the interests of the people of the north end, especially those living in the immediate vicinity of the Blackman site, would be protected against the encroachment of business and industry.
"We have inserted an article requesting the taking of this site for park and recreational purposes, but it will noted in reviewing the warrant that this article follows both the Blackman and Chestnut St. school articles.
Once again, high drama ensued on Thursday evening, Feb. 20, 1958 at the annual town meeting at Birchland Park School.
"East Longmeadow voters spent four hours on the first 10 of 57 articles in the town warrant tonight and then adjourned until Friday at 7:30 p.m. without resolving the town's No. 1 issue: the need for a high school. 
"Between 1300 and 1400 attended to make this one of the largest town meetings in the town's history, with the high school controversy providing the stimulus for attendance. Cars were pouring into specially plowed parking areas as early as 6:30, an hour before the meeting. The gymnasium and auditorium, into which the meeting was carried by two-way public address system, were filled, long before the starting hour.
"Early in the meeting voters rejected a proposal to acquire the Blackman site by eminent domain for school purposes. This would have required a two-thirds vote which it did not receive.
"The vote on the acceptance of the Chestnut St. site was 822 affirmative and 504 negative. This was 62 less than the two-thirds vote of 884 required.
"An effort to win reconsideration on the Chestnut St. site failed because approximately 500 of the 1300 attending the session streamed out of the two halls that were used immediately after the Chestnut St. vote.
"Thus when reconsideration was voted upon, only 447 remained to vote "yes" and 426 voted "no," the affirmative falling short of the necessary two-thirds.
"Perhaps the tensest moment occurred immediately after the Chestnut St. site had been defeated. The moderator, Richard Chisholm, announced that selectman Richard Hickey would like to call for a vote on reconsideration. There was a chorus of shouted "nos" and "boo's" and scattered angry exchanges between the moderator and members of the meeting who had favored selection of the Blackman property in the north end of the town.
"Quiet was restored and Hickey made the motion for reconsideration, which was lost because of the exodus of approximately 500 voters.
"Rejection of the Blackman and Chestnut St. sites puts East Longmeadow back where it was in mid 1956 when a special six-man survey committee headed by Virgil Hulette first was appointed. The committee has strongly advocated the Chestnut St. site.
"It was believed tonight that this committee might submit its resignation. This would mean the town again would have to have to go through the process of presenting a high school proposal to voters."
Caption from Feb. 21, 1958 article in Springfield Union: The verbal barbs flew fast and thick last night at the East Longmeadow town meeting as residents argued over alternative school sites. Here is a general view of Birchland Park School gymnasium where the meeting was held. A good indication of the crowd present was the 670 cars parked in the school lot. At the podium is Raymond Chisholm, moderator, who is listening to Charles Bowler speak in favor of the Blackman site. The other location under contention was the Chestnut St. site. The meeting failed to agree on either location.
Selectman Hickey announces next step
On Friday evening, February 21, the town meeting picked up where it had left off the night before. During another four hour session, "the remaining fifty-three articles in the warrant were completed."
Regarding the high school, "Later in the evening, Selectman Richard E. Hickey, Jr. announced that after consultation with town officials and the town counsel it was decided that the fairest approach to the problem would be to arrange as soon as possible a meeting of the school committee, the Board of Selectman, the moderator, and the finance committee to recommend an article for a special town meeting in the near future."
The article requesting $10,000 for the development of the Blackman site for park and recreational purposes was withdrawn.
New high school site sought
On Feb. 28, 1958, "A school program to be presented to voters at a special town meeting in March was discussed at a special town meeting of the school committee, selectmen, the appropriations committee, town moderator, town counsel, and school superintendent.
"The consensus was that a ten-room addition to Birchland Park School to be constructed as soon as possible would be the quickest means of getting additional classrooms which are urgently needed.
"This could be done immediately, it was decided, with the school committee supervising the planning. The Birchland Park addition would fulfill the ultimate need for increasing the junior high school space and would in the meantime relieve the crowded condition in the elementary grades.
"It was also agreed that neither the Blackman nor Chestnut St. sites should be presented again, but that another site should be found for a high school. Tonight's group is considering other sites so that a new site can be presented at the special town meeting."
On March 8, the selectmen, the school and appropriation committees and the town moderator met and set March 28 as the date for the special town meeting.
"The group agreed that further site costs should be obtained before a site can be made on a high school site to be recommended to voters."
Maple St. site recommended for high school
On Mar. 15, 1958, at a meeting of a special committee composed of the school committee, Board of Selectmen, the appropriations committee, and the town moderator, a decision was made on a new site for the high school.
"On the basis of reports submitted tonight by the Board of Selectmen; the school committee; S. W. Haynes Associates, architects; and Alfred Melien, town engineer; the group unanimously voted to recommend the taking of Gerald Spears' property on the south side of Maple St. for the site of the new high school.
"The committee also voted to recommend that the town meeting designate the moderator, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and the chairman of the school committee to act as a special appointing committee to select a six-member 1958 high school building committee to secure preliminary plans for a high school for approximately 800 pupils on the Maple St. site."
On March 25, three days before the special town meeting, additional details were released about the Maple St. site:
"The on-site development costs of this property, which have been investigated by S. W. Haynes Associates, architects and engineers, are estimated at $148,000, considerably less than the on-site costs for either the Chestnut St. or the town-owned Blackman property. 
"The Maple St. tract contains about sixty-four acres and is presently laid out as a development with 108 building lots.
"It has been determined that an entrance can be made from the school into the sanitary sewer system on Maple St., eliminating the need for a sewage pumping station which would have been required for the proposed housing development.
The proposed land-taking includes all of Spear's property on the south side of Maple St., except for fourteen lots fronting on Maple St. on which twelve houses have already been built. The site would have a 300 foot frontage on Maple St. opposite Melwood Ave., for access, and would have another access of about seventy feet at the eastern end, opposite Bayne St.
"Definite approval on the Maple St. site as the property for the proposed high school has been given by the Massachusetts School Building Assistance Commission, and general approval has been given for a 1958 High School Building Committee."
Voters approve Maple St. site for high school
On Mar. 28, 1958, "The stalemate on selection of a high school ended when voters at a special town meeting approved almost unanimously the Gerald Spear property on Maple St. as the site for the proposed East Longmeadow high school.
"The vote was 752 to 7. The required two-thirds majority was 506 of the 759 total.
"Immediately following the meeting, selectmen started legal proceedings to take the sixty-four acre tract by eminent domain. The sum of $65,000 was transferred from surplus revenue to take this property.
"Voters unanimously approved all other school articles. The meeting in Birchland Park School was attended by about 800 and was over in a little more than an hour.
"A six member high school building committee will be appointed to obtain preliminary plans and specifications, preliminary approval by the school building assistance commission, and cost estimates for construction of a high school on the Maple St. site. The new commitee will be appointed by a special appointing committee consisting of the moderator, chairman of selectman, and chairman of the school committee.
"Following the meeting, the school committee, selectmen, appropriations committee, and town moderator, who had worked school needs, expressed their appreciation for the voter support and approval of their proposals."
Building committee appointed and gets to work
On Apr. 7, 1958, "The special appointing committee, designated by vote at the March 28 special town meeting, announced the appointment of six members to the new 1958 High School Building Committee."
The building committee met for the first time on April 10. "General procedure for a building committee was outlined and it was decided one of the first steps would be to visit recently constructed high schools and then select an architect. 
On April 16, "Superintendent Robert Jarvis said a comprehensive type high school is planned, offering a good college preparatory program with English, social studies, mathematics and science, as well as commercial education, home economics, generalized shop, art, music, and physical education. It is agreed, he said, that in view of the very adequate vocational program at Trade High School, the local school would not offer a vocational program.
On April 28, "Members of the high school building committee and superintendent Jarvis had a preliminary building needs conference with the Massachusetts Building Assistance Commission in Boston, reviewing facts and figures, and discussing the steps toward construction of a building and procedure for hiring an architect."
"It was agreed that the next step would be for the committee to present educational plans and specifications for the proposed high school which would spell out the sizes and locations of various rooms in relation to the educational program.
"On the return trip committee members visited the new West Boylston High School."
The commitee also visited Amherst Regional High School, South Hadley High School, and West Springfield High School.
Architect chosen
On Jun. 10, 1958, the building committee announced "Alderman and MacNeish, architectural and engineeting firm of West Springfield, has been unanimously selected as the architect for the proposed high school.
"The decision was made following two months of study and investigation which included interviewing eight architects and visiting schools representative of their work.
"Alderman and MacNesish designed Longmeadow, Agawam, and South Hadley High Schools and several buildings in East Longmeadow: Mapleshade School, the town library, the Methodist Church parish hall. police and fire headquarters, and the town highway garage."
Superintendent and building committee push for high school
So far, the town had voted only to procure the land for the school. A special town meeting on November 6 was scheduled to approve its construction. On Oct. 21, 1958, superintendent Robert Jarvis and the school committee reviewed the reasons East Longmeadow needed its own high school. 
"According to the high school building committee and school superintendent Robert Jarvis, among the many reasons why a local high school is necessary are the constant increase in the number of high school pupils and the resultant increase in the tuition which must be paid if a high school is not built.
"At present there are 333 pupils enrolled in Springfield public  schools on a tuition basis. Forty of these are attending Trade High School which has a tuition rate of $500 and 293 are attending the academic high schools which have a tuition rate of $485.
"There are 123 pupils at Technical High School; 89 at Classical High School; and 81 at Commerce.
"Current enrollment figures show the number of high school pupils will increase to 401 in the fall of 1959; 419 in 1960; and 482 in 1961.
"The superintendent of Springfield schools, with the approval of the school committee, has said that the growth of their school population makes it unlikely that they will be able to continue to take pupils on a tuition basis and suggests it would be desirable to have pupils out by September 1960. It may be required to have them out by September 1961. Since a building the size of the proposed high school cannot be constructed in much less than two years, it is essential that a start be made, Jarvis said.
"East Longmeadow is the largest town in the state without its own high school, the commiteee said.
"Since it is not expected that state aided vocational courses will be offered in the local high school, it is estimated that the town might continue to send forty to fifty pupils to Springfield Trade School. This means the local budget would continue to have a tuition item of up to $25,000. This is reimbursed fifty percent by the state."
Sketch and description of proposed high school
This is an artist's sketch of the proposed $2,195,000 East Longmeadow High School on Maple St., East Longmeadow, to have 33 teaching stations and to accommodate 650 pupils, designed by Alderman and MacNeish, architects and engineers, of West Springfield. The main entrance, with a curved bus-loading area, would face almost due north, and would be approached by a U-shaped driveway entering from Maple St. opposite Melwood Ave.
On Oct. 28, 1958, a sketch and description of the proposed high school was published in the Springfield Union to acquaint everyone with the design of the school prior to the special town meeting on November 6. 
"Shown at the west end is the two-story classroom wing which will have five classrooms, four science laboratories, two large specialized business training rooms, one small room for the use of advanced business machines, two home economics rooms, and a mechanical drawing room on the first floor; fourteen nonspecialized classrooms on the second floor, and lavatories and storage space on both floors. To the rear, marked with a dotted line, is the proposed location of another classroom wing which could be added in the future.
"Directly to the east of the classroom wing is the auditorium, with a seating capacity of 850. In front of the auditorium would be a classroom, a vocal and instrumental music room, and a faculty room. The administration offices, guidance and health areas would be near the main entrance of the school.
"The section to the rear of the open court and the auditorium would include an arts and crafts room, kitchen with cafeteria at either side, boiler room, the receiving area, and the industrial arts shop. The divided cafeteria is planned because of easier supervision and less noise during the lunch hour, and so that either section can be shut off for independent use with the auditorium or with the gym when these facilities are needed for public functions. The larger section, near the auditorium, would have a capacity for 240, the smaller would accompany 110, for a total capacity of 350.
"The gymnasium would be large enough for a 50 x 84 foot regulation size basketball court, with folding bleachers accommodating 840 pupils, and would have a folding partititon to divide it into two spaces each with 44 x 74 foot practice courts for instruction in physical education for boys and girls. Locker and shower facilities for boys would be on the south side, and for girls on the north side. Also on the front side would be offices for the School Department and the school superintendent, to replace present office space in Birchland Park School which is needed in connection with expansion of this school.
"The swimming pool, as proposed, would be located at the east end of the building, adjacent to the gym, and would be accessible to the gym's locker and shower facilities. At this side of the building would be a paved parking area for 250 cars, and an oiled gravel parking lot to accommodate another 250 cars. In addition to the main driveway, there would be a second exit from the parking area to Maple St., about opposite Bayne St. There would also be a service entrance at the rear of the building.
"Site development would include a football field and track, with permanent bleachers for 1000. Permanent bleachers for another 1000 would be available for football or for the soccer, baseball, softball and hockey fields. Most of the sixty acre tract would be developed, including space for the building, the parking areas, and the playing fields.
"Cost estimates include all these facilities and site development work, and complete equipment for the school including all instructional materials other than books and daily supplies. Architectural , engineering, and other fees, as well as miscellaneous expense, are also included.
"At the special town meeting November 6, the high school building committee will request the sum of $2,170,000 to be added to the $25,000 previously appropriated, for a total estimated cost of $2,195,000. The committee will also request authorization to proceed with final plans and to contract for construction of the building.
"The cost of adding the swimming pool, estimated at $130,000, would mean an average twenty-five cent increase in the tax rate over a twenty year period.
Voters authorize high school construction but reject pool
"Voters at the special town meeting on Nov. 6, 1958 unanimously approved preliminary plans for the proposed East Longmeadow High School to be built on Maple St. and appropriated $2,1700,000 for its construction. The addition of a swimming pool, however, failed to pass by the necessary two-thirds majority. A two-thirds majority was required in each case because the building project will be financed through a twenty-year bond issue."
"The high school building committee received a unanimous vote of confidence from the 800 persons present, and was authorized to proceed with final plans and specifications to contract for the construction of the building and to carry the project to completion.
"The proposed addition of a swimming pool, costing $130,000, was discussed for more than an hour before the vote was taken, with 407 in favor and 319 against. Moderator Raymond Chisholm said 483 yes votes were needed for a two-thirds majority of the 726 total count. The swimming pool proposal was presented by David Lawrence, who said this is not a frill but a vital part of today's educational program. Year-round use of the pool would be a great asset to the community, he said. The additional cost and rising tax rate plus the fact that new elementary schools are needed were the main arguments against the pool." 
Final plans being drawn
On Nov. 19, 1958 it was announced, "Since the special town meeting November 6 when the town approved preliminary plans for the East Longmeadow High School and appropriated $2,170,000 for construction of the building, work has been progressing toward drawing up final plans and specifications, preparatory to the bidding, so that construction can be started next spring. 
"Alderman and MacNeish, architects and engineers, are proceeding with construction features; and the architects and school staff are in the process of working out the details for the various classrooms, both specialized and nonspecialized, and for the necessary auxiliary rooms to submit suggestions to the high school building committee for discussion and approval.
"According to school superintendent Robert Jarvis, ex officio member of the building committee, complete details of location of all materials, type and size of girders, exterior and interior design, heating and ventilation, electrical installations, equipment, wall and floor coverings, and all other items involved must be worked out before final plans and specifications can be completed and ready to be put out to bid.
"The building, to have an initial capacity of 650 pupils and central facilties accomodating 850, is planned to allow for future expansion by the addition of a second classroom wing."
Principal to be hired in summer of 1959
In late December 1958, the school committee announced, "In view of the fact that the high school will open in the fall of 1960, an item is included in the budget for the employment of a high school principal, effective next summer. This will allow the new principal a full year to in which to do the great amount of organizational work necessary to the opening of a new high school.
"This includes the organization of all courses, selection of textbooks, formulization of administrative routine for the building, establishment of an up-to-date date system for record-keeping, and an opportunity to establish contacts with colleges, technical schools, and places of employment.
"The principal, during this period, would also do the preliminary work of interviewing teachers and gathering their credentials in order to make recommendations for appointments to the school superintendent and the school committee."
On Jan. 10, 1959, the Board of Selectman, in looking back at 1958, declared, "The most gratifying event of the year was authorization to take the Spear property for a high school site. This culminated almost two years of factional bickering among our townspeople over the high school, which everybody wanted, should be located. This stalemate has now been resolved and we are making excellent progress toward the construction of the New East Longmeadow High School."
Bids sought for construction
On Mar. 12, 1959 it was announced, "Plans and specifications for a 650-pupil high school on Maple St. have been completed and the high school building committee has advertised for bids on the construction of the building. Sub-bids will be accepted at the school department office, Birchland Park School, until twelve noon on Thursday, April 2, at which time they will be opened and read. General bids will be accepted until 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 9.
Construction contract awarded to Springfield firm
On Apr. 16. 1959, "The high school building committee awarded the contract for construction of the new East Longmeadow High School to E. J. Pinney Co., Inc., of Springfield, the lowest of six bidders.
Elwyn Doubleday to be new principal
Also, on April 16, "The school committee announced the appointment of Elwyn J. Doubleday as principal of the new East Longmeadow High School. Doubleday has been principal of Birchland Park School for the past two years, during which time he has assisted in the preparation of educational specifications and plans for the high school and the addition to Birchland Park.
"Doubleday is a native of Belchertown, where he served as a teacher in the high school, assistant principal of the high school, and principal of the Cold Spring Elementary School before coming to East Longmeadow two years ago. He served four years as an officer in the tank corps of the U. S. Army in the European Theater, and presently holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves. He holds a bachelor and master of science degree from the University of Massachusetts."
Ground broken on April 28, 1959
The first shoveful of earth for the new East Longmeadow High School was turned over by Charles H. Spencer, chairman of the high school building committee during ceremonies Tuesday on the south side of Maple St., opposite Melwood Ave. Mrs. Emily M. Badger, chairman of the school committee, looks on. Next to turn over the shovel were Robert J. Jarvis, superintendent of schools, right, and Arthur W. Anderson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
"About fifty townspeople were on hand Tuesday for groundbreaking ceremonies marking the start of construction for the new high school. 
"Ceremonies were held on the site at Maple St. Present were Charles Spencer, chairman, and other members of the high school building committee; Mrs. Emily Badger and Ray Jones of the school committee; selectmen Arthur Anderson and Richard Hickey; school superintendent Robert Jarvis; high school principal Elwyn Doubleday; and other members of the school staff." 
Outdoor public swimming pool investigated
In June, following excavation of an area 100 x 240 feet for a hockey rink on the southeast side of the high school, the area quickly filled up with water to a depth of about four feet, apparently from a spring. This led to a suggestion of an outdoor swimming pool for the town.
At a special town meeting on Jun. 25, 1959, the building committee was authorized $10,000 for the construction of an outdoor pool if a healthful swimming area could be developed.
On July 8, public health officials determined that a public swimming area, in compliance with public health regulations, could not be developed. The building committee voted to discontinue plans for a swimming area.
Construction on schedule
On July 7, the high school building committee reported that "progress on the construction of the high school is satisfactory with further progress dependent on the timely procurement and erection of structural steel." 
400 East Longmeadow pupils attending Springfield schools
On Sept. 25, 1959, figures were released for high school students in grades ten through twelve attending Springfield schools. "This number shows 153 at Technical, 105 at Classical, 78 at Commerce, 42 at Trade, and some at Cathedral."
Construction on track
On Dec. 1, 1959 three photos were published in the Springfield Union detailing construction progress.
The new $2,075,000 East Longmeadow High School is well under way, and it is expected the building will be ready for occupancy by September 1960. Shown at the front entrance, checking the blueprints are, left to right, Elwyn Doubleday, school principal; Charles A. Bowler, clerk of the work for the construction project; and Robert J. Jarvis, superintendent of schools and ex officio member of the building committee.
The general view above shows the gymnasium in the background and a corner of the auditorium in the right foreground. The 650-pupil school is designed with central facilities for 850, which makes further expansion possible through the addition of another classroom wing. The school will have thirty-four teaching stations, with fourteen of them located on the second floor. The steel roof deck has been promised for immediate delivery.
The photo above, taken from the auditorium lobby, shows the gymnasium to the right, and the administration offices and the health room on the left. Not shown are the playing fields at the rear of the building, already covered with grass and ready for use as soon as the school opens.
Teacher recruitment initiative
A Dec. 16, 1959 reported, "In preparation for the opening of the East Longmeadow High School next September, a brochure is being sent to the placement directors of colleges in the New England area for the purpose of teacher recruitment.
"This brochure features East Longmeadow as a growing town with an expanding system, and a source of professional opportunity. The planned educational growth is outlined, resulting from the study of building needs of the growing population, and plans for the high school are presented.
"The high school will offer a four-year curriculum program --- college preparatory, commercial, general and practical arts --- and the proposed courses of study meet the requirements of a good comprehensive high school as outlined by ex-president Conant of Harvard University in his report, "The American High School of Today."
"The college preparatory program is planned to be of the caliber to permit entry into any college in the country. In addition to intensive courses in English and social studies, a complete program in science, mathematics, and foreign languages will be offered, plus a wide variety of electives to meet individual needs and abilities. An important phase of this curriculum will be an accelerated program for the academically gifted child, participants being selected on the basis of their measured potential and past achievement.
"For the noncollege preparatory student, there will be a choice of commercial, general or practical arts programs. The commercial course will include a comprehensive preparation in stenographic, bookkeeping, and clerical skills designed to prepare a youngster for business, industry or government service. All necessary subjects from the elements of typewriting and shorthand up through the use of the most modern office and business machines will be included.
"The general and practical arts student will have his choice of a wide variety of subjects including the basic academic program of English, social studies, sciences, and mathematics, combined with shop, home economics, arts and crafts, and mechanical drawing. All students will be required to participate in physical education and to add a sufficient number of elective subjects to their programs to provide a well-rounded background regardless of their curricular choice.
"Tentative plans call for a first-year faculty of approximately thirty teachers; five for English, three for social studies; three, sciences; three, mathematics, two, commercial; three, practical arts; four, foreign languages; one, arts and crafts; two, physical education; one librarian; and one guidance counselor. The organization of a competent faculty is under the direction of Principal Doubleday.
"Since salary matters are still under consideration by the school commitee, the final salary schedule is not yet available. The present schedule, any changes in which would be increases, lists a $4000 minimum for teachers with a bachelor's degree of equivalent; $4150 for those with fifteen credits towards a master's degree; and $4300 minimum for those with masters degrees. The schedule has thireen steps of $200 increments, the last three steps being considered merit raises. Present maximums are $6400, $6500, and $6700 in the three categories.
"Additional benefits include dependency stipends to those teachers who are the prime support of their families, sick leave of ten days a year, and participation in a health, accident, and life insurance plan for which the town contributes one-half the cost." 
In April, scarlet and silver gray were chosen as the school colors, as described in an article in the Springfield Union:
Apr. 15, 1960 article in the Springfield Union.
Photo in Springfield Union, June 21, 1960 with caption: Basic construction of the new East Longmeadow High School on the south side of Maple St. is 90 percent completed. Finishing touches inside and installation of equipment are in progress. The U-shaped driveway, with entrance and exit on Maple St., and landscaping in front of the building are yet to be done. At left is the gymnasium, with a locker and shower room and the School Department Office in the front. The lower section in the center includes, front to back, the principal's and guidance offices and health room, an open court, and the art room, with the kitchen and two cafeterias in the rear. The larger section at the right is the auditorium with a classroom, music room and teachers' room in front, and the shop, boiler room, and receiving room in the rear. At the extreme right, with only a small portion showing, is the two-story double-loaded corridor classroom wing, containing science laboratories, commercial, home economics and mechanical drawing rooms, regular classrooms, and the library. E. J. Pinney Co., Inc., is the general contractor of the $2,000,000 school and Alderman and MacNeish, the architects and engineers. The school will be completely equipped and ready for occupancy by the opening day of the fall term, September 7. The 650-pupil school has facilities for 850 to allow for future expansion by the addition of another classroom wing.
This appears to be a portion of the photo in the newspaper article above, whose photographer was uncredited. Photo courtesy of Frank Lacey.
Orders placed for equipment
A Jul. 12, 1960 article mentioned, "The high school building committee, with the aid of the superintendent of schools, high school principal, and architects have placed orders for the many items of equipment for the new high school and shipment is expected soon.
"The items include textbooks, maps and globes, science apparatus, business machines, shop machinery, cafeteria dishes and utensils, physical education equipment and athletic uniforms, musical instruments, and a great variety of equipment needed for maintenance and operation of the building.
The town will receive fifty percent reimbursement from the state on all this equipment, the same as was received on the basic construction cost of the high school." 
Construction moves toward completion
A Jul. 23, 1960 article stated, "The school committee made a tour of the new high school building Thursday night preceding its regular business session in Birchland Park School. 
"Basic construction of the building is completed and work is progressing toward having the school ready by the opening day of the fall term. Hardware and lighting fixtures are being installed, ceiling and floor tiling is partly completed, wood paneling is being done in the lobby, the gymnasium is being painted, and painting is in progress throughout the building.
"The classroom walls have been painted in various pastel shades in harmony with chalkboard and tackboard. Equipment has started to arrive and is being installed.
"Work yet to be done includes the installation of cabinets and shelving, and installation of stoves in the cafeteria, along with plumbing and electrical connections.
"The service road at the rear has been paved, and preparations are being made to pave the front U-shaped driveway and parking lots.
"The school library is almost completed, and as soon as the shelving arrives, the books which have been purchased will be installed. Mrs. Lois Lopes, school librarian, has been working since March 15 ordering and cataloguing new books, using temporary space in Birchland Park School. About half of the 5000 books have been purchased and catalogued. They cover all fields, have been selected from the American Library Association and other lists of recommended secondary school books and by request of teachers.
"The 650-pupil school will open September 7 and during its first year will house ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades." 
High school staff orientation
A Jul. 30, 1960 reported, "The school committee announces that all members of the new high school staff will report on Monday, August 29 for a full week of in-service meetings and preparations for the opening of the school on September 7.
"A series of meetings will be held on school policies in regard to marking, student dress and behavior, assignments and the equipment available in the building, and members of the new faculty with have the opportunity of becoming acquainted with each other. The cafeteria staff will serve lunches to the teachers during this week, which will enable the kitchen help to become familiar with the new equipment and to find and correct any faulty equipment before serving pupil lunches." 
High school principal now in new office
An Aug. 19, 1960 article said, "Elwyn J. Doubleday, high school principal, has moved into his new office at East Longmeadow High School after occupying temporary office space in Birchland Park School for the past few months. Mrs. Agnes Livingstone has assumed her new duties as secretary to the high school principal, having previously been a part-time secretary to the principal of Center and Pleasant View Schools. The telephone number for the high school office is LA5-7475.
"Edward W. Pepyne, guidance director, is expected to move into his office at the high school next week, and Robert J. Jarvis, superintendent of schools, will move into the building before the opening of the school September 7, from present offices in Birchland Park. Ovide Carmel, head custodian, and Alphonse Viens, custodian, are now at the school on a full-time basis.
"The offices are not quite finished, but work is progressing there and throughout the building and the entire construction project is nearing completion. The classroom floors are being waxed, and equipment and furnishings for the various rooms are arriving daily. Also progressing is the construction of sidewalks from Maple St. to the main entrance to the building.
"Bids for the construction of three tennis courts were opened this week." 
Construction nearly finished
An Aug. 29, 1960 article mentioned, "The new East Longmeadow High School is nearing completion, and will begin operation for pupils in grades nine through eleven on Wednesday, September 7. All areas of the building will be available for use with the possible exception of the auditorium, shop, home economics room and gymnasium. The shower and locker rooms are completed and ready for use.
"Areas not yet completed are now being worked on and will be ready shortly after the opening of school. The school day for pupils will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. A six-period day has been provided for, with an activity period conducted during the lunch hour.
Rules for dress code, smoking, and driving to school
The same Aug. 29 article also stated, "The school committee discussed several areas of policy during its meeting this week, and announced Wednesday several specific recommendations:
"All pupils should consider the school as a place of work and should dress according to the standards universally observed. They should show good taste in the dress and personal appearance. Certain items of dress not be worn are dungarees, collarless shirts or T-shirts, shorts and motorcyle boots. Boys must wear shirts with collars. Girls will be expected to wear dresses or traditional skirts and blouses or sweaters. Shorts, culottes or slacks are not to be worn.  
"No smoking will be permitted by the student body on school property or in the school building. Students violating this rule will face automatic suspension.
"Since bus transportation will be furnished for all students living more than one mile from school, there should be little reason for pupils to drive to school. If a student feels he has a good reason for driving to school, it will be necessary for him to apply for permission at the principal's office. The application will be evaluated by the principal and if approved, a parking area will be assigned. Any violation in traffic rules and regulations will result in the suspension of driving privileges. All prospective passengers must obtain written permission from their parents for submission to the principal's office." 
Faculty meets to plan new year
An Aug. 30, 1960 article reported, "Members of the new East Longmeadow High School faculty met Monday in the new building. An informal session in the cafeteria, with student hostesses in charge, preceded the session.
"Elwyn Doubleday, principal, introduced the department chairmen and other members of the staff of twenty-eight teachers and Robert Jarvis, superintendent of schools, introduced members of the school commiteee: Gerald Osterman, chairman, Mrs. Emily Badger, and A. Richardson Goodlatte. Mrs. Goodlatte said this first faculty meeting in the town's first high school was a momentous occasion; and Goodlatte spoke of the advantages of a local high school in that teachers' individual interest in the pupils would result in less dropouts.
"Superintendent Jarvis welcomed the teachers, saying they comprised a superior group, having been selected from more than 300 applicants. He spoke of the opportunity of setting up a secondary educational program in a new building with new equipment and the importance of maintaining a proper balance between rights and responsibilities.
"In outlining educational goals for the year, Jarvis said the first objective is to have each child read, write and speak English effectively, to assign as much written English as possible and to inculcate good moral values and good manners in every classroom. The second aim, he said, is for pupils to understand democracy and its workings and benefits, both governmental and economic; and the third is understanding the physical world we live in, and detailed specific learnings, with emphasis on quality rather than quantity.
The second meeting was conducted by Jarvis and Doubleday Monday afternoon, following lunch in the cafeteria. During this session, policies in regard to pupil supervision, pupil entry and transfer, fire drills, parent-teacher conferences, marking, homework, individual differences, public relations, the school health program, and other subjects were outlined and discussed.
"Student hostesses at Monday's coffee hour were honor students who will enter eleventh grade this fall and will be in the high school's first graduating class." 
Policies for East Longmeadow students
Another Aug. 30 article said, "All public school pupils in grades nine through eleven are required to attend East Longmeadow High School unless they are attending a vocational school by prior arangement. The school day for the new high school will be 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The town will continue to be responsible for the tuition of twelfth grade pupils who are attending the three academic public high schools in Springfield. 
Interior of high school revealed
On Sep. 2, 1960, four photos were published in the Springfield Union:
The library in the new East Longmeadow High School now has about two-thirds of $17,500 worth of books that have been ordered and catalogued by Mrs. Lois Lopes, school librarian.In the new library above are four eleventh grade students, Dianne Farr, Linda Johnson, Jerry Frederickson, and Elwyn Doubleday, Jr. They are members of what will be the school's first graduating class, in 1962.
Here in the high school language laboratory are Linda Johnson, a student, and Leo Darsigny, chairman of the foreign language department. The laboratory has twenty-eight individual units, and a master console controlled by the teacher. It will be used for the teaching of French, Spanish, and German. The "language laboratory" technique is the latest method for instructing, and is said to be considerably more effective than the older book and recitation style of teaching.
John H. Coons, chairman of the physical education department at the school, and Mrs. Kirsti Kjeldsen, director of girls' athletics, confer with the new high school principal, Elwyn J. Doubleday, standing, and superintendent of schools Robert J. Jarvis, in the superintendent's office. The new 650-pupil school will open Wednesday on schedule, with a student body composed of pupils from the ninth through eleventh grades.
Miss Marjorie Gibbs, teacher, and Armand Fusco, chairman of the high school business department, look over the thirty-five newly installed typewriters in one of the three business department rooms. The commercial course is one of the courses to be offered in the new comprehensive high school. It is in addition to the college preparatory and general courses.
High school teaching staff named
A Sep. 5, 1960 article Union mentioned, "The faculty of the new East Longmeadow High School includes twenty-nine teachers and department heads. Chairmen of the various departments are James M. Grocott, English; Francis Dutille, mathematics; Leo Darsigny, foreign languages; John Roan, social studies; Armand Fusco, business; Karl Owen, art; John Coons, physical education; Charles Campbell, industrial arts; Mrs. Audrey White, home economics; Lloyd Dale, science; Joseph Charron, music; and Mrs. Lois Lopes, librarian.
"Teachers will be Mrs. Virginia Corwin, Miss Nancy Stewart, Miss Mary Kennedy, Miss Judith Sessler, and Robert Goff, English; Kenneth Lyford and Mrs. Arlene Tashlick, mathematics; Miss Marian Gianette, Mrs. Gladys Adams, Miss Kennedy, and Miss Sessler, foreign languages; Marvin Bryan and Miss Theresa Vedany, social studies; Miss Marjorie Gibb, business; Mrs. Kirsti Kjeldsen, physical education; Eugene Gauthier, industrial arts; Robert Camp and Robert Troutman, science; and Mrs. Margaret Corliss, music. Elwyn J. Doubleday is principal. Also in the high school are Robert J. Jarvis, superintendent of schools; Edward W. Pepyne, guidance director; and Mrs. Helen Hayward, school nurse."
The school opens!
A Sep. 8, 1960 article stated, "Schools opened Wednesday with an enrollment of 2368 pupils in grades one through eleven. With an additional 85 attending Springfield schools for their senior year and 57 attending Trade High School, the total number of local pupils is 2510.
"In the new high school, there were 182 ninth graders, 123 tenth graders, and 133 eleventh graders, for a total of 438 the first day. The total in Birchland Park School, which includes grades 5 through 8 and one fourth grade classs was 903. In Mapleshade School, the third and fourth graders numbered 496. Pleasant View School had 282 youngsters the first day, and Center School, 249."
East Longmeadow High School shortly after it opened.
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This is the end of our story of how East Longmeadow High School came to be. But the story is not over and will continue for years to come. As of June 2021, 12,338 students have graduated from ELHS (see table below), and a large number of teachers and administrative staff have passed through her doors, leaving their mark on our lives. We are grateful for all the work and love that went into making East Longmeadow High School a reality for us to enjoy.
We were curious to find out when the swimming pool was added, along with the second classroom wing. It turns out they were part of a large addition completed in time for opening day in September 1965. It included twenty-four classrooms; a 75 x 25 foot swimming pool with bleachers for 225; an enlarged library; an expanded shop area to provide a machine shop, electronics lab, power mechanics shop, and a wood shop; two storage rooms for football and athletic equipment; a larger teachers' dining room; and new offices and conference rooms in the administrative area of the school. The enlarged building could accommodate 1200 pupils compared to the previous capacity of 650.
An interesting note about ninth graders, hopefully well explained: ELHS opened in 1960 as a senior high school, hosting grades 10 to 12. During the 1960-1961 school year, twelfth graders completed their senior year at the Springfield high schools they had been attending since tenth grade. This left enough space for ninth graders to attend ELHS, even though they were in junior high. On Jun. 15, 1961, a graduation ceremony was held for them in the high school. They continued as sophomores at ELHS in the fall of 1961 and graduated in 1964.
In September 1961, with seniors now attending ELHS, ninth graders returned to Birchland Park School, leaving the high school with grades 10 to 12. This arrangement of Birchland Park as a three-year junior high school and ELHS as a three-year senior high school continued until the high school addition was completed in 1965. In September 1965, ninth graders returned to ELHS, making it a four-year senior high school.
Since its opening, seven principals have led our school. Here are their names and years of service:
Mr. Elwin J. Doubleday, 1960-1963 (passed away in 2004)
Mr. Ralph L. Shindler, 1963-1979 (passed away in 2014)
Mr. Peter J. Cannone, Jr., 1979-1987 (passed away in 2020)
Mr. Richard L. Freccero, 1987-2010
Mr. Michael E. Knybel, 2010-2011
Dr. Gina E. Flanagan, 2011-2020
Mr. Frank R. Paige, 2020-present
As of June 2024, 12,964 students have graduated, as seen in the table below. In 1961 there were no graduates, as seniors completed their education in Springfield schools. The largest number of graduates to date was 298 in the class of 1974.