Opinion

Our Town

Fire is genesis for Waterford High

By Carol Steedman

Ron Anderson (1944-1949) and his daughter, Janis Anderson-Campbell,(1970-1975) review their Waterford District High School yearbooks in anticipation of the 125th school reunion, May 19-21.                            (Carol Steedman/For The Expositor)

Ron Anderson (1944-1949) and his daughter, Janis Anderson-Campbell,(1970-1975) review their Waterford District High School yearbooks in anticipation of the 125th school reunion, May 19-21. (Carol Steedman/For The Expositor)

Waterford District High School got its start in 1892 after fire destroyed the public school and a petition was circulated in support of a high school.

A high school board was set up with A. M. Little as chairman, I. E. York at secretary-treasurer, and Alex Rock, O. Cunningham, O. McMichael and J. J. Church as members.

A site of 1.8 acres at the northeast corner of Main and Brown streets was purchased from A. E. McMichael for $150 an acre and a brick building was built for $7,000. The first year's enrolment was about 100 students.

Teachers were paid an annual salary of $600. Fees for non-resident students started at $1.50 a term, increasing to $9 a term by 1900.

During the First World War, attendance decreased when older students enlisted for service. Similarly, in the Second World War many students went abroad and 11 died.

After the war, the number of students grew due to an emphasis on education and the increase in population, now referred to as the Baby Boomers.

Attendance at the Waterford high school climbed in 1947 when secondary school districts were centralized in Norfolk County. Students were bused to the high school from most areas of Townsend and Windham, Oakland and Scotland.

Until 1930, Waterford students who wanted to earn their senior matriculation had to attend high school in Simcoe. However, in that year, a new wing was added to Waterford District, which included a gym, science room and classroom so that students could advance to Grade 13.

In March 1936, the school's original part was destroyed by fire. The National Floral factory on St. James Street was rented to accommodate students for the rest of the school year.

A new school was built at the Main and Brown streets, opening in 1937 with 150 students and a new principal, Ken A. Richardson. During his 30 years at Waterford, he saw the school's population grow to 850.

This year marks the high school's 125th anniversary. Plans are in high gear to welcome former students and staff to a grand reunion, May 19 to 21.

The event will include a meet-and-greet area in the cafeteria, classrooms filled with memorabilia and an alumni basketball game.

Tickets for a bash at Tricenturena are $35 a person and must be ordered or purchased in advance.

For details about activities and ordering tickets, check facebook.com/wdhs125in 2017, Twitter@wdhs125 or www.waterfordreunion.com.

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An art show featuring paintings by Norfolk artists Michael Barber and Sierra Barber, jewelery by Alice Lingard from Strathroy and fabric sculpture by Gale Lemery of Waterford has just opened at Gallery 23, 23 Market St., Port Dover. The gallery is open Thursday to Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. The show continues until May 7.

Carol Steedman is a freelance writer who lives in Waterford. Readers can contact her at goffsteedman@execulink.com.

Brantford Expositor 2017 ©