Art in Schools is Neglected in Holyoke

by Laurel | February 27th, 2014

27 February 1921

South Chestnut Street School

South Chestnut Street School
Holyoke, Mass
About 1892

Officials Pay Visit to Various Institutions — Startling Conditions Found

It is difficult to believe that such gross and well-nigh criminal neglect has been allowed to result in injury and in some cases practical destruction of pictures given to the Holyoke schools. The example that the city authorities have set in such an unseemly happening is hardly to be passed over lightly. The effect of the pictures in such a building is nearly overbalanced by seeing them abused. What sort of an example is that for the children of the city of Holyoke?

Town Officials Inspect Schools

It is well that the mayor and finance committee of the board of aldermen paid a personal visit to the Holyoke school buildings. The school board has repeatedly called attention to their condition which has been pronounced a disgrace. The board of public works has continued until this year to ignore the conditions that existed. It seems that the public library building is not the only public building that has been neglected. In the latter case there is not only neglect, but necessity for immediate changes that it may continue to function for the public. The indications are that the board of public works was not exceeding the demands of an unparalleled situation when it asked for $100,000 for the city property fund. The city has evidently a bill to pay for neglect as well as for repairs and replacements. this means increased taxes and the taxpayers will have to grin and bear it as best they can.

Couldn’t the Bathhouse Matter Wait?

The bathhouses of the city are matters, of trifling importance compared with seeing at once that the art treasures, such as they are, in the school buildings, are no more threatened from loss or damage by leaky roofs. It would be no great loss if the bathhouse matter was postponed another year. It is already evident that there must be economy practiced this year in quarters where economy has bot been the rule heretofore. For there is swiftly coming the need of additional accommodation for the school children.

School is Overcrowded

the South Chestnut Street School, which as a maximum should have 320 children, now has 450. The Elm Street building, too, is overcrowded. Some provision must soon be made for the Northampton Street new tracts. The state will not always sanction the occupancy of the present building for the vocational schools. The continuation school is being as best it can, but the increasing practice in other cities is for a separate building.  It is apparent that the William Whiting School is approaching its limit. The Nonotuck Street School has been and still is disgracefully overcrowded. There is a fire hazard there, also, that gives cause for uneasiness, though it is not as hazardous as has been claimed. The very fact that it is known to be extra hazardous is likely to in a way prevent a casualty, as all are on their toes ready for any emergency. Something will have to be done to lessen the tension in another year if not this year.

Graduates Rank High

In his annual report to the school board, Superintendent William R. Peck stated that the graduates of the Holyoke High School were making records above the average, and records od which Holyoke had reason to be proud.

the detailed records of some of the recent graduates are beginning to come and to substantiate that claim. Genevieve Kane, 1920, who entered Bridgewater Normal School is an honor pupil. Philip O’Brien, 1917, has recently been elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Yale, one of the highest honors in the college world. He is also  editor of the Yale record. He was editor of the High School Herald when here. Eileen Fitzgerald, 1919, and Anna Gardner and Mary Courtney, 1920, who entered Connecticut College for women are all honor pupils. Miss Fitzgerald is making an exceptional showing according to reports.

Professor Commends Work

In a letter from Professor Coombs of Worcester “Tech,” the work of Arthur Williams, 1918, and John nelson, 1920. Holyoke boys was highly commended. Donald Mullen, 1919, who is at the University of Ottawa, in Canada, has forged ahead of his class so that he is now in the third year class after two year’s attendance. James Mullen, who is at the University of Pennsylvania, is editor-in-chief of the senior class record.

School Board Has Plan

The central grammar school building to take pupils from the South Chestnut Street School, the Elm Street building, the Lawrence School and possibly relieve some of the pressure at the William Whiting School is, in the opinion of the school board, the best way out. the city now owns the land in the Maple Street Playground, not all of which will be required for the new building.  This will release the land and building a the corner of Maple and Appleton Streets for public sale. The attendance at the South Chestnut Street school can be brought down to normal at least. the school department can find room in the new building which, they assert, can be built in such a manner as to provide for additions as demand shall arise without detriment to its convenience or appearance.

Twenty-Four Room Building

There was talk of a 36-room building, but it is quite likely that the board will accept a 24-room building with provision for future expansion as needed. The cost of a 36-room building at present is almost prohibitive. It is doubtful if the city government will be able to see its way clear to erect it this year. It should, in the opinion of the school board, be an imperative requirement for the year 1922. By that time materials will have lowered further and it is figured the absurd claims of building labor will have in some measure subsided, and one or two other matters readjusted themselves. Still it must be confessed this year is going to be a trying one for the school authorities and parents in view of conditions.

Is Commission Worth the Price?

The talk of a special appropriation for the playground for Ward 4 by the playground commission may have been of interest to that body, but it provokes interest in the query whether the commission is of enough service to the city for the money that it costs to call for its perpetuation. It is more than an academic question whether the whole playground proposition is worth 50 per cent of the money that it costs. At the best it is an expensive luxury and like a lot of other luxuries that have been saddled on to the city of Holyoke the past 15 years, and it is of doubtful value as compared with needed school buildings, improved roads, better bridges, enlarged park areas and other needed improvements. Of course it can be said of this proposition that it furnishes a number of nice jobs for people who want an easy berth in the summer months, and that it is not by far the only proposition that could be dispensed with to no great loss to the city and a very considerable gain to the projects that are pressing for attention. All things are relative, even in Hoyoke, one can make ot a case for the building of a public hangar for aeroplanes, but the city has just so much money to spend and this is the hard fact as compared with the sentimentality that has unloaded so many of these costly organizations on us.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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