At the turn of the century the county superintendent reported that "Millburn has a high school offering complete courses and preparing for all colleges."
At that time 1899-1900, there were 434 pupils enrolled in the township schools and the total high school enrollment was twenty-nine. There were thirteen teachers and, a year later, there were forty-one high school students and a total of fifteen teachers in town.
The Millburn Item of June 30, 1898, reported the first commencement experiences of the Millburn High School (the first was in 1896?one graduate Sarah F. McChesney, from Annual Report of Millburn Board of Education, 1908 and following years). The affair was held in the Casino and, seated on the platform, were miss Hebbard, school superintendent of Millburn Township; Dr. Addison B. Poland, former state superintendent of schools; and the three graduates; Henrietta Keeney, Martha Gilley Condit, and Agnes Isabella McKallor. Each graduate rendered an essay. Miss McKallor spoke on "Patriotism"; Miss Keeney on "The Ancient Romans"; and Miss Condit on "Fairy Tales."
Board of Education President William H. Deen presented the diplomas to the graduates, and spoke to the audience on some of the difficulties of the Board and of the teachers. Mr. Deen said that "He had personally investigated a number of trivial complaints made by parents in behalf of their children, and he found that with hardly an exception, the fault originated in the pupil who was generally backward in his studies and probably below the average in department." Mr. Deen made a very thoughtful and delicate reference to the past season's services of Miss Cora Hartshorn, who gave the high school class free instructions in drawing, and furnished all of the necessary materials.
Dr. Poland, in his address, said that he had received his first inspiration from Millburn to consolidate the school districts of the State according to townships. The audience was amused when he contrasted the present educational privileges of the township with those offered by the Old Washington School House.
Dr. Poland stated that there were now fifty high school buildings in the state of New Jersey. He emphasized the quality of education rather than the number of graduates. He observed that "Smith College started with nine graduates, Millburn High School with three; like Smith College our classes will increase in numbers."
In 1899, the Item reported the fourth (1896, 1897, 1898, 1899) high school graduation which was held at the Casino on June 29th. The graduates were: Miss Gertrude Keeney, Miss Martha Louise Woolsey, and Mr. George Wright Campbell. The essays presented by the graduates were respectively: "God's Chosen People," "A Few of the World's Great Painters," and "Trusts."
Present day pupils will be amused to hear that one of the songs sung at the graduation was entitled "Swing, Swing."
Mr. Deen again presented the diplomas to the graduates, and twenty-three pupils were promoted from the grammar school to the high school. In the Millburn-Short Hills Item of June 18, 1931, Mr. Charles Dyke, Superintendent of Schools, is reported to have stated that one of the graduates, Doris Berstler, was the niece of Millburn High school's first graduate in 1896. He identified that graduate as miss Sarah F. McChesney (N.B. sister of Doris Berstler's mother), and the year of her graduation as 1896. This precedes the first reported class by two years, and there are records to support Mr. Dyke's statement [marginal note that is not entirely legible, but reads in part: In the Bd of E record in va? And in Bd of Ed Annual Report for 1908 and following year].
During the early 1900's great emphasis was placed on the use of the schools by the community, and the idea of the teacher serving as a leader in the community. From State Superintendent Baxter on down to the local level the philosophy was advanced that:
"...the school should be the intellectual center of the community, and not that alone but a social center as well, making an effort to hold young people and furnish them recreation not only innocent but improving."
In the spring of 1903, the State Superintendent reported that:
"...There is a growing interest in evening-school work. Courses of lectures were given successfully last winter in Bloomfield, Nutley, South Orange, West Orange and Millburn."
In 1906 County Superintendent Meredith reported that some land was being purchased adjacent to the Wyoming School for the purpose of erecting an addition, and that modern plumbing systems had been installed in the Short Hills and Washington Schools at a cost of $3,000. The fact that Millburn had voted $600 to install a manual training plant in the high school was also reported.
At this time the average yearly salary for teachers in the county was $728.19.
The average age of a student entering the Millburn High School in 1905 was thirteen years nine months. During the 1905-06 year there were twenty-six pupils enrolled in the Classical Course, and three in the Modern Language Course. No students were enrolled in the English Course, the Miscellaneous Course, or the Commercial or Business Course.
In the spring of 1907, it was reported that an art room had been fitted up on the third floor of the Short Hills School, and that the manual training room had been completed in the Washington School.
At this time J. Albert Kalb, who still lives in Millburn, was the supervising principal and in his report he indicated that Miss Georgia C. Cowan taught drawing and woodworking.
There was a total enrollment of 442 pupils in the schools with twenty-two of them being in the high school. Four students were graduated in 1907. [N.B. the list at the end of this chapter contains no names for 1907]
The Millburn Schools, under the direction of Mr. Kalb and eighteen teachers, completed a first half-century of remarkable growth. The next fifty years would bring forth even greater accomplishments.
The Second Half-Century of Educational Progress
During the three year period beginning in September, 1907 and ending in June, 1910, the school enrollment increased from 442 to 520 pupils. The distribution of these pupils was as follows: Kindergarten, 94; grades 1 to 4, 227; grades 5 to 8, 156; and grades 9 to 12, 43. Evidently, kindergartens were started in Millburn during the school year 1909-10. Since they were first included in the 1910 report.
This report also indicates that a new building in Wyoming was nearly completed and would soon be ready for occupancy. The cost of the building was to be $23,500, and it was to be thoroughly fireproof; its construction being of reinforced concrete. The site of the building was on Myrtle Avenue near Pine Street on a high terrace. The building was to be 75 feet long and 45 feet wide, and was to include four classrooms, a principal's office, a library, and a teachers' room. The interior arrangement was such that by raising partitions, a large assembly room could be made available for special uses.
In 1911, the White Oak Ridge School was improved by installing new desks, running water, and a telephone, and the grounds were beautified.
The end of the year report of 1912 indicated that a two-room concrete building was under construction at White Oak Ridge to replace a frame structure, and the 1913 report stated that the new school at White Oak Ridge had been in use during the school year.
Therefore, the Wyoming School was first occupied on its present site in September, 1910, and the White Oak Ridge School in 1912. [N.B. editorial comments: No-just renamed then. No Bill Barr! - if you accept the previous paragraph (1912) this is correct]
Meanwhile, the school enrollment had increased to 593 by the end of the 191213 school year, and in 1922, the year before the high school moved from Short Hills School to what is now the junior high school, the enrollment had reached 949 pupils. During the fall of 1916, the schools of Essex County were late in opening because of the prevalence of infantile paralysis. Since the teachers reported for duty anyhow, a series of preschool meetings was held. Sometimes these meetings were of a general nature, and sometimes they were divided into sectional meetings of primary, grammar and high school teachers.
The record shows that "The leaders and instructions were in almost every instance school men and school women regularly employed in the county, and in many instances members of the local teaching body..."
Of these meetings County Superintendent Morelock said:
"I am strongly of the opinion that at least three days and probably a week before the opening of school should regularly be devoted to this kind of preparation, and that attendance upon these meetings should be made part of the contractual obligation of every teacher."
J. Albert Kalb was succeeded as supervising principal by Charles B. Dyke on October 20, 1915. [Board of Education Annual Report, February 1916, p. 6].
The planning began before the first world war, but the Board of Education's attempt to put through a building program was a failure. In 1920 the building program failed to pass again by two votes, but six months later it passed by a big majority.
The building, now part of the present junior high school, consisted of twelve rooms and a gymnasium-auditorium. Provisions were made to build additional classrooms and an auditorium which would extend back from the center part of the building, and to build other classrooms in a wing at the north end of the building.
The entire building, arranged on three floors, presented a completed facade to Old Short Hills Road and was, in effect, the first of a three stage building program. The athletic field was developed in its present location.
The corner-stone was laid on October 26, 1921, and contains a box which, in part, contains the following: copies of New York and Newark newspapers; coins from one penny to a silver dollar; photographs of all the schools and other public buildings; and photographs and news clippings about the football squad, debating team, etc. The high school junior annuals for 1918 and 1921 were also included as were annual reports of the Board of Education from 1910 through 1918, lists of the teachers employed in 1921-22, and a copy of the Corner-stone Laying Program.
William N. Runyon representing the Governor, and Chairman of the Town Committee, Walter R. Hine, made addresses and all of the school children of the district participated in the ceremonies.
The school opened in September, 1922, when the high school students moved down from the old Short Hills High School. New student organizations included boys' and girls' athletic associations and glee clubs, a radio club, and a school orchestra. There was also a school cafeteria.
Dean Emery was President of the Board of Education, and Walter A. Staub, [N.B.: this is re: 1929-1931 addition]chairman of the building committee. Robert Ritching was valedictorian of the class of 1931; and Doris Berstler was salutatorian.
Seven years later, in 1938, the school was enlarged again. The addition included four classrooms and a boys' locker room. The building was now capable of housing 850 students, and there were 916 students enrolled.
Mr. Dyke retired in 1937 and was succeeded by Dr. John R. Patterson.
The present South Mountain School was built in 1935 [N.B.: opened Sept. 1936], and five more rooms were added to it in 1948. At the present time, new facilities are being added to the school.
The Glenwood School was erected in 1939, and a six room extension was added in 1948. Since a new twelve room elementary school is planned for the Country Club Section, and should be ready for use by 1958, it is not likely that further additions will be made to the Glenwood School.
In 1935, there were 1,301 pupils in kindergarten to grade six in the township; by 1939 this number had dropped to 1,165; and in 1948 it had increased to 1,228.
As early as February, 1945, the Board of Education began to consider the construction of a new high school building. At first the thinking was along the lines of a junior high school but, beginning in 1942, the high school enrollment began to decrease and the Board of Education decided to wait for further developments before making any definite move.
In the meantime, Dr. Patterson had retired as superintendent of schools in 1947, and was succeeded by Dr. Roosevelt Basler who, in turn, was succeeded by Dr. Lester B. Ball in 1950. The Millburn High School Yearbook of 1925 indicates that there were ten faculty members and among them was Mr. Robert E. Faddis, present senior high school principal, who joined the faculty in 1924.
There were sixteen Members in the graduating class of 1925, and the total four year high school enrolled 124 students.
When the football team played Chatham in 1924, one of the regular players was injured. Since there was no substitute, the game was halted until Herman Buncher, a rooter and member of the class of 1926, donned a suit and entered the game. There is no report as to how this interesting game turned out.
In 1928, additions were added to the Short Hills and Wyoming Schools. The Short Hills School addition consisted of a large auditorium and gymnasium which were added to the west end of the building, while the Wyoming School, built in 1910 and enlarged in 1920, received an auditorium and additional classrooms.
By 1930 there were 1558 pupils enrolled in the township with 223 of them in the high school. Consequently, at that time an auditorium, cafeteria, library, a second gymnasium, and an arts area were added.
Until 1930 the high school had been a four year school even though grades seven and eight were located in the same building but, with the new addition, Millburn became a six year junior-senior high school, and started the school year with 482 students.
When the graduation exercises were held in 1931 a thousand people filled the new auditorium. The program included the commencement exercises and the dedication of the new building. There were forty-two graduates; a new high for Millburn.
A survey made by The Institute of Field Studies, Columbia University in 1951, pointed out the need for new elementary school buildings and improvements and for a new high school. Consequently, in 1951 the old center section of the Short Hills School was torn down, a new section was constructed including a kindergarten, and the entire building was renovated and modernized. The school was occupied in 1952.
Since The Field Institute rated the Short Hills School as the poorest public school building in Millburn, it had been relatively easy to decide to rebuild it. The high school presented other problems.
After considerable discussion, both in the Board and the community the decision was reached to build a senior high school adjacent to the athletic field on Millburn Avenue.
On November 30th, 1956, there were 3,029 pupils enrolled in the Millburn Schools with 1,675 in the elementary schools, 762 in the junior high school, and 592 in the senior high school.
No one could have foreseen in December, 1857, that the three teachers instructing three poorly attended one-room schools in a remote and rural area would be the forerunners of the modern educational system which exists in the lovely suburban community of Millburn.
The three teachers have increased to 173, and the small frame buildings have been replaced by seven well-equipped modern structures.
Millburn students and graduates bring new honors to their schools and their community with each passing day.
The rising tide of progress has carried Millburn a long way toward her ultimate destiny. Who would dare to predict what the next hundred years will bring?