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Jaffrey

Building On a lifetime of Memories

Jaffrey Grade School: Elementary preparing for 75th anniversary open house set for Wednesday

  • The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.

    The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.

  • The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.

    The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.

  • The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.

    The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.

  • The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.

    The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.

  • The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.

    The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.

  • The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.

    The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.

  • The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.

    The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.

  • The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.

    The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.

  • The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.

    The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.

  • The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.

    The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.

  • The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.

    The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.

  • The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.

    The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.

  • The Jaffrey Grade School will hold its 75th birthday anniversary on June 4.

    The Jaffrey Grade School will hold its 75th birthday anniversary on June 4.

  • The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.
  • The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.
  • The Jaffrey Grade School will celebrate its 75th birthday on June 4, inviting community members to an open house celebration of the schools history.
  • The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.
  • The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.
  • The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.
  • The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.
  • The restored artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School was prepped and painted by Brian Murray of Peterborough, as part of a sub-project of a larger painting project over the summer.
  • The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.
  • The archway to the Jaffrey Grade School with the newly restored artwork by Brian Murray of Peterborough, was prepped and painted in just four days at the end of August.
  • The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.
  • The artwork above the School Street entrance to the Jaffrey Grade School is bright and colorful again thanks to local painter Brian Murray of Peterborough who prepped and painted the art in just four days at the end of August.
  • The Jaffrey Grade School will hold its 75th birthday anniversary on June 4.

Jaffrey native Richard Boutwell attended Jaffrey Grade School during its first year of operation 75 years ago in 1938 — the year of the first major hurricane to strike New England since 1869. Boutwell attended the grade school from 1938 to 1942, completing first through sixth grades. Now a member of the Jaffrey Historical Society, Boutwell shares his memories and knowledge of the school’s early years as the school prepares to celebrate the 75-year milestone.

“One of my memories from when the building was first built was the rumbling of the ventilation system,” Boutwell said.

Its memories like these that will be shared Wednesday evening during the school’s 75th birthday celebration. The celebration will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the grade school. Attendees will have the opportunity to view photos and memorabilia, student projects, engage in memory sharing and live music, among other activities.

There will be a special ceremony at 6:30 p.m., recognizing both alumni and staff that have walked the schools halls over the last 75 years. Being a lifetime Jaffrey resident, Boutwell wouldn’t miss the schools upcoming celebration.

“I’ll be interested in seeing how many former students attend,” said Boutwell. “The building was a Works Progress Administration Project that the government enabled the town to build during the Great Depression,” recalled Boutwell in a recent interview.

The WPA was established in 1935 by the executive order of President Roosevelt, with the purpose of employing people when unemployment was widespread.

The Jaffrey Grade School building had 12 rooms, 10 of which were used when the school first opened. The school also had an auditorium gym that was originally known as Union Hall, according to Boutwell. From 1938 to 1954, Conant High School used the auditorium for dances and sporting events. “It felt like a thrill to go into the big auditorium space,” said Boutwell.

In 1938, the hurricane nicknamed the Yankee Clipper struck New England, something that Boutwell will always remember as one of his first memories of the grade school.

“The school opened, we had a few weeks of class, then the hurricane of 1938 hit and we got a few weeks off,” recalled Boutwell.

Boutwell remembers his music teacher, Mrs. Whitcomb, vividly.

“She began my love for music, taught me how to read it, and I am involved with music to this day.”

According to Boutwell, there was only one male teacher when the school first opened.

“Then [the male teacher] left. Another one was hired and soon became principal. It was odd to see a male teacher in a classroom back then.”

Back in the 1930s, school was one of the few diversions for children.

“Going to school was a child’s main engagement wiwth the world,” said Boutwell.

JGS Principal Susan Shaw-Sarles has been spearheading preparations for the school’s birthday celebration.

“The sense of history is frequent with people who visit the school that used to go here,” said Shaw-Sarles in a recent interview. “This event will strengthen the bond between the school and surrounding community.”

Shaw-Sarles was hired by the grade school in October 1993 as a reading specialist. After four years in her specialist role, she was made interim principal in 1997 and was given the official title of principal a year later in the spring of 1998. During Shaw-Sarles tenure, the building went through one major renovation, in 2003. Four new classrooms were added to the school, bringing the number of classrooms up to 19.

According to Shaw-Sarles, the school housed around 300 students when it opened in 1938, despite being about half the size of today’s building. Current enrollment at the grade school is 335 students. Although enrollment numbers are largely the same as when the school opened, 75 years of graduates will have the chance to reminisce come Wednesday.

“People enjoy reminiscing, [the celebration] will provide an opportunity to do so. Preparing for the event has strengthened the community in our school,” said Shaw-Sarles.

According to Shaw-Sarles, the extended open-house concept will give visitors the chance to walk around the school, visit the gym full of historic photo displays, and admire a large quilt that current students have been working on.

Jaffrey native Robert Roy attended the grade school from 1938 to 1942. Robert’s daughter, Carol Pryor, is a first grade teacher at JGS. Roy recently visited his daughter’s classroom, answering students questions about his years at the school.

Roy informed the students of the many differences at the school between now and then. Questions like, “Was there a computer room?” and “Did the playground have a slide or swings?” were answered with, “I didn’t even know what a computer was, and there was a playground but there was no slide or swings. We played tag or dodgeball.”

Various grade school classes conducted additional interviews with former students and created a book of memories. The book will be available at the birthday celebration.

Charlie Royce, a Jaffrey native, attended the grade school from 1939 to 1945.

“Back then it was first through sixth grade,” said Royce in an interview Wednesday.

“The school was basic. Reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, cursive writing, it was good education for a small town elementary school.”

When Royce was a student, the school building was brand new.

“The building still looks the same from School Street today,” said Royce. Although it has been years since Royce attended the school, he remembers many of his teachers.

“Miss Mildred Cutter, a Jaffrey native, kept me in line,” laughed Royce.

Royce still lives in Jaffrey with his wife, Ann.

“After graduating from Conant, I had planned to go off to school, but financially it wasn’t working out, so I joined the Marine Corps for five years. That was the only period of time that I really left the area,” said Royce.

Jaffrey residents only make up a portion of the people planning to attend the celebration; others who have moved out of the area will travel hours to attend.

Dee Rivard worked as secretary at the grade school from 1977 to 2000 and plans to attend the upcoming birthday celebration.

“I wouldn’t miss the party for anything,” said Rivard, who currently resides in Kennebunk, Maine.

Rivard was the second secretary the school ever hired, and recalled being hired during a different age of technology.

“There were no copiers, computers or calculators when I was hired. I had a telephone that you could talk to someone and put one person on hold and that’s about it,” said Rivard in an interview on Tuesday.

With no intercom system, Rivard used to have a fifth grade student come down to the office when a message needed to be delivered to a classroom.

“I remember that every morning, two students would wait for the bus to take them to Rindge for their special needs classes. The school did not have special needs classrooms back then; now there are two special needs rooms and an intensive learning center. That is a big improvement, for the better,” said Rivard.

Following the renovation in 1987 which saw the building double in size, a wooden playground was put in. “I remember seeing the wooden playground built when they first came out,” said Rivard, who also witnessed the existing playground built of metal years later.

“Prior to the addition in 1987, the school sent its fifth graders to the middle school due to lack of space,” said Rivard. “After the addition the students returned.”

While working in the office at the grade school, Rivard worked for five different principals.

“Now the school has had the same one since I left,” said Rivard. “The whole dynamic of the school has changed since I left.”

Rivard’s daughter, Robin Bussiere, currently teaches first grade and two of Rivard’s great-grandchildren attend the school as students.

“I am looking forward to seeing a lot of former teacher friends. It will be fun to see them again,” said Rivard.

Jaffrey Grade School hired Helen Stone in 1990 as an associate in the library. Stone was hired full time in 1993 and became the librarian in 1994. It was a different era back then for a school library.

“Today, the world is dictating technology use. We use digital cameras, computers and smartboards here in the library,” said Stone.

According to Stone, the library switched to using an online card catalog in the mid-1990s, and now everything in the library is computerized.

“The students used to check out books by writing their names on paper slips. Now we just scan everything,” said Stone.

When Stone was hired, the library was crammed into one room. Today, the library has expanded to the size of two classrooms and another separate room for a computer lab.

“The library started with one Mac, now we have 24 PCs in the computer lab and seven more in the library,” said Stone.

“Today, kids seem to be more knowledgeable about a variety of different topics, maybe because of the technology that is readily available to them. Today’s students like to read a lot of different topics,” Stone said.

Stone plans to attend the birthday celebration and looks forward to, as she said, “seeing the former students come in and find the differences in the school from the time that they went there.”

Anyone and everyone is encouraged to attend the event Wednesday and experience the deep history of elementary school education in Jaffrey.

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