ECS Alumni Association

A History of The Edwards Central School

by LaVerne Freeman

Edwards High School came into being when it was determined there were enough students in Edwards to warrant a local high school rather than having them go to Gouverneur.  This usually entailed staying during the school week with a family in Gouverneur then riding the train back to Edwards for the weekend.

At that time, the elementary school in Edwards was on East Main Street (pictured at right), on the site of the current Assembly of God Church and parsonage. Built in 1898, it replaced a school which stood on Main Street next to the Methodist Church. Originally, this was a one story school. In order to make room for the additional students and programs, the roof was raised on it, to make two stories. This floor had room for three more classrooms and a principal's office. This is pictured at the left.

Pictured at the right is the first class to graduate from the Edwards High School. The three members of this class to graduate on June 23, 1914, were, from left to right, Gretchen Todd Gregory, Mildred Chapin Lathan Lumley and Vivian Beach Gardner.  Their flower was the white rose.

The Class of 1936 went through their public school years in the old wood building on East Main Street, which had been the site of the first high school in Edwards. However, in their senior year the new brick school on Trout Lake Street was being constructed, so while they were the last class to complete their four full high school years in the old school, the gym in the new school was finished and graduation was held there, on the stage, on June 22, 1936, instead in the "Opera House" of the Town Hall, as had been done in the past.

At the left is the class of 1936, front from left to right: Lillian Adams Fagnant, Margaret Tinney Aldridge (deceased), Edna Williams Schryer (deceased), Hilda Jarvis Ryan (deceased), Marion Harmon Vienneau. Back, Helena Freeman Evans (deceased), Edward Adams (deceased), Mary Tripp Noble, Olan Brayton (died in 1942 in a POW camp in the Phillippines during WWII, the local VFW post is named in his honor), Myrna Morgan Goodberry (deceased).

In the fall of 1936 the old school was permanently closed and the Class of 1948 began as first graders in the Trout Lake Street building (pictured at right). This building was the fifth and final school built in the village of Edwards.

The Class of 1948 has the distinction of being the last class to graduate under the name of Edwards High School. The voters elected to discontinue the Edwards Union Free School #1 on June 9, 1948 and, effective the school year 1948-'49 to consolidate, and be organized as the Edwards Central School. The Edwards school and the Fine school each realized there was to be a change and the Fine high school students, who traditionally had attended Edwards, had begun attending the Oswegatchie High School in the fall of 1947, therefore all the 1948 class members were from the various outlying district schools of the town of Edwards.

Pictured at the left is the Class of June 1948, the last class to graduate as Edwards High School. The class members in the picture are: Front row: Virginia Lutz Mussaw, Bruce Brown, Beatrice Bishop, Lyle Bleau and Judith Fuller Perpente; Middle Row: Clarence Skeldon, Helen Cole Exford, Eleanor Morrissey Meilleur and Clarence Thompson; Back Row: Phyllis Whitmarsh Zaluski, Robert Perry, Violet Patience Swart, George Hurley, Kenneth Hughes, Dorothy Aldridge Johnston, Stanley Zaluski, Ermina Bevins and Richard Brown. Absent was Jeanette Todd.

The Class of 1949 was the first graduating class under the reorganization of the school as the centralized district, the Edwards Central School.

Here, the Class of 1949 is pictured. Front row L-R: Bernice McGill Hogue, Marjorie Brasie Day, Jean Whitmash Zaluski, Constance Brown McElwain, Shirley Kerr Wood, Florence Sullivan Tuttle, Frances Rice Damon. Rear row: Charles Clintsman, Charles Patience (deceased, 1982), Kenneth Jones, James Webb, Glenn McCollum. Picture courtesy of Jean Whitmarsh Zaluski.

An elementary school wing was built in 1951 on the Trout Lake Street building. The children who lived in the village started to attend classes there when it opened in early 1952. The first kindergarten class in Edwards went to school there and graduated as the Class of 1964. It is interesting to note that the townspeople had decided to have a kindergarten in Edwards by 1951 and that to introduce it they had to use the Methodist church building before the wing of the school was actually ready. By the early '60s, the outlying "one room schoolhouses" closed in the town of Edwards and all students K-12 attended school in this building.

The communities of Edwards and Russell had been considering the possibility of merging to be able to give the students of both areas the best education available in this era of technology. On December 4, 1985, the voters agreed that in the best interest of the young people the two districts would merge. The Edwards-Knox Central School came into existence effective July 1, 1986. A new K-12 school was built about half way between the two communities with classes beginning in the new building in September 1989. Therefore, Edwards Central School held its last graduation as a school serving the students of the Town of Edwards in June 1986.

Class of 1986
The final graduation as EDWARDS CENTRAL SCHOOL
Shown in the picture are: Front row: Bryan Davison, Douglas Matthews, Richard Thornton, Stephen Skeldon, Jenelle Hale, Michelle Hale, Sheryl Hathaway Blystone, Elizabeth Nichols Bowman. Middle row: Stephen Taylor, Mark Watson, Jeffrey Brown, Mabel Davison Peabody, Sonja Forbes, Janice Moore Burkard. Back row: Scott Zeller, Richard LaPlant, Lura Hughes Gotham, Pamela Daniels DeClue, Lisa Jones Skeldon, Aimee Mazuroski Clark.

For the most part, the Edwards school building has been unoccupied since the students vacated it in June 1989. The high school wing was torn down during the summer of 1998. Recently, the property was purchased by John Matejcik, who has been renovating it and is looking to return it to a useful purpose in the community.


Webmaster's note:  Since this article was written, the ownership of the school property has changed.


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